2011-09-08 / Local & State

Hess Presents Lyme Disease Legislation To Human Services Committee

Rep. Dick Hess (R-Bedford/ Fulton/Huntingdon) presented testimony to the House Human Services Committee last week on his legislation designed to promote better treatment of and education about Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

“Lyme disease is a very serious and debilitating ailment, and many Pennsylvanians suffer from this and other tick-borne illnesses,” said Hess. “My legislation would bring much-needed help to them in the form of better treatments that would be covered by health insurers, and establish an educational information campaign to raise awareness of these diseases.”

House Bill 272 would require health insurers to cover treatment of Lyme disease and tick-borne illnesses if the diagnosis and a treatment plan are documented. In addition, a task force would be created to work with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Department of Health to create a statewide education effort on Lyme disease and related maladies.

Hess said the number of cases of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania is very large and a comprehensive effort is needed to help those who suffer from it. The commonwealth ranks number one in the nation in the amount of Lyme disease cases. There are no current laws that mandate specific health insurance coverage of these diseases.

“There is solid bipartisan support for this bill and I am hopeful that the committee will soon vote to send it to the House floor for a full and fair debate,” said Hess. “The testimony provided in the public hearing by victims and support groups was very powerful, and I hope that their information helps move this much-needed legislation forward. The time has come to do the right thing for victims of Lyme disease and tick-borne illnesses.”

Similar legislation was passed by the committee in the previous session, but did not get to the House floor.

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