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State Rep. Marcia Hahn: Supporting Victims of Lyme Disease

In this opinion piece, Hahn discusses why she voted in favor of a House Bill that -- among other things -- requires all health care insurance policies to cover treatment for Lyme disease.

By State Rep. Marcia Hahn (R-138/Northampton)

There is a very good chance that someone you know has been diagnosed with Lyme disease. Last year, Pennsylvania had the second-highest number of confirmed cases of the disease in the country, trailing only New Jersey.

It is not uncommon for Lyme disease to go undetected, be undertreated or misdiagnosed. As a result, many who suffer with the disease are frustrated with the inability to properly diagnose and treat it.

I recently attempted to help rectify that situation by voting in favor of House Bill 272, legislation passed by the House Human Services Committee on Wednesday, Dec. 14. The bill, which may now be considered by the full House, allows a physician to prescribe long-term antibiotic therapy for late stage Lyme disease. It requires all health care insurance policies to cover treatment for Lyme disease, including long-term therapies.

House Bill 272 also establishes a Department of Health task force to investigate and make recommendations regarding the prevention of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. In addition, a program of public and professional education on the disease will be developed, in order to raise awareness of the long-term effects of the disease being misdiagnosed.

Lyme disease is easily cured with antibiotics when caught early. Left untreated or undertreated, the disease can result in serious complications. We need to do all we can to make the public aware of preventive measures to take and the signs and symptoms of the disease, as well as ensure that those who contract Lyme disease are equipped with the medication necessary to recover from it.

Monica Zmuda December 16, 2011 at 11:29 PM
Thank you. I suffer from Lyme, the decision your faced with is unbearable for those who can not afford it like me. You can not afford the treatment needed to have a good quality of life. I suffer from neurological tics, inability to walk some days, let alone what it does to the brain. I suffer from a huge amount of pain. It took over four years to find out I had Lyme disease. I can not afford to get treated. I tried, my antibiotics were 200 dollars. It was recommended that I get a PICC line, I can not afford that. The choice that we have to make as a parent, wife, is continue to decline just so we can feed our children and keep a roof over our head. I am scared too death that I will not be able to walk or Have any quality of life before Lyme disease claims me, another victim. I am 36. Thank you and god bless you for this vote.
Bambi L Albert December 17, 2011 at 12:57 PM
I am currently in remission thanks to some very good doctors here in the Slate Belt. Thank you so much for fighting along side us. I am at your service in any way you see fit to get the ball rolling in the entire United States. You have my email. Bless You.
Connie Arrivello January 02, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Thank you Representative Hahn. Unfortunately, my husband's company closed and we now do not have health insurance. It's just too expensive. Anyway, I'm glad to see that someone is fighting for the all the people in the US with this terrible disease. I for one know first hand. I was diagnosed in 2008 and since my blood now appears negative for the disease the doctors will not give me any more antibiotics. Lyme disease can mask itself and test results can falsely be negative. I know that I still have it because my symptoms come and go. I must have had 2nd or later stage because I have the swollen knee joint, the waning headache and the spasams that also come and go that are very painful to deal with as though there are organisms in my body pinching, pushing, pulling and causing havoc trying to get out. Please keep up the good work you are doing for us. Thank you.
Gail Sheffer January 03, 2012 at 08:32 AM
Thank you very much for voting in favor of HB 272. I am co-founder of the York Lyme Disease support group and since we formed in 2004 we have an email listing of approximatrly 140+ members. In fact my family of four has not only Lyme but we each have 2 or more tick borne diseases. We. can certainly attest to the large numbers of Pa residents who are sick and go undiagnosed, misdiagnosed and under treated. In 2007 there was a Lyme task force & I was appointed as one of the only lyme patients. We met twice and then we were never called back by the Dept of Health after a long public jearing
Gail Sheffer January 03, 2012 at 08:41 AM
In 2007 & 2008 the Pa. Health Dept cited lack of funds as a reason for inaction. Interesting since we do know they received thousands in funding from the CDC in 2008. Other states are far ahead and repeatedly request & receive funding from the CDC & other sources. I would bet the farm on the numbers for 2010 will not only be higher but will keep us at #1 in the U.S.

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