House Passes Hess Lyme Disease Legislation
A multi-year effort to pass legislation designed to raise awareness of and better treat Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses took another step forward with House passage of House Bill 272, said author Rep. Dick Hess ( R- Bedford/ Fulton/Huntingdon) last week.
“ I am pleased by the strong bipartisan show of support for this much-needed legislation in the House,” said Hess. “I have worked with residents who have been directly affected by these debilitating illnesses and have had input from medical providers and others, resulting in a good piece of legislation. The 187 affirmative votes show the level of care about this issue in the House.”
Hess said Pennsylvania ranks number one in the nation for reported cases of Lyme disease. An increase was noted from the 5,722 reported cases in 2009 to 7,484 in 2010. In addition, the National
Centers for Disease Control lists Pennsylvania as second in the nation with 60,793 total reported cases from 1990 to 2010. There are no current laws in Pennsylvania that mandate specific health insurance coverage of these diseases.
Hess said 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.
“The sheer number of cases in Pennsylvania, which leads the nation, do not lie as it shows the need for action to help our afflicted citizens,” said Hess. “ I am hopeful the Senate will give this bill swift consideration.”