Lyme Disease bill passes House
HARRISBURG – Earlier this week, Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) had two legislative proposals move forward in the legislative process and draw added attention to the increased prevalence of the disease in our state.
“Over the course of the past six years, Pennsylvania has ranked highest in the country among states in the number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease,” said Baker. “In 2016, Pennsylvania reported 12,200 cases of Lyme disease, which is a significant increase from the prior year at 10,817 cases. Further, a 2015 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection study confirmed a high risk of Lyme disease in every county of the Commonwealth.”
To raise awareness of the disease, Baker authored a House resolution that passed the House of Representatives designating May 2017 as “Lyme Disease Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted primarily by ticks and is caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, such as Babesiosis, Bartonellosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and others, pose a serious threat to the quality of life of many Pennsylvanians, with the frequency of diagnosed and reported Lyme disease cases increasing dramatically over the past several years.
“Lyme disease is a growing concern and growing health care issue here in Pennsylvania,” said Baker. “We clearly need to do more to help address this issue, especially when it comes to individuals whoare trying to get insurers to cover their recommended treatment.”
As chairman of the House Health Committee, Baker drafted House Bill 174, which the committee unanimously passed, that would require health insurers to cover treatment plans for Lyme disease or related tick-borne illnesses as prescribed by a patient’s health care practitioner, regardless if the treatment plan includes short-term or long-term antibiotic treatment.
“My legislation recently passed the Pa. House of Representatives and would be a major win for those coping with Lyme disease and I am hopeful it will be presented to the full Senate for consideration in the very near future,” said Baker. “We are already hearing that this year will be one of the worst years for ticks in the state, so the time to act is now.”
For more information on Lyme disease, go to www.health.pa.gov and click on “Lyme Disease” under Hot Topics.