Friday, January 4, 2019

Rep. Rapp To Make Full Lyme Disease Treatment Coverage A Priority As Republican House Health Committee Chair

On January 3, Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren), the Republican Chair of the House Health Committee, said she would be making legislation requiring health insurers to cover treatment plans for Lyme Disease or related tick-borne illnesses a priority-- House Bill 174 from last session.
“It is no secret that Pennsylvania has ranked highest in the nation for the number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease for more than six years now,” said Rep. Rapp. “In 2016, Pennsylvania reported 12,200 cases of Lyme disease, which translates to 122,000 new cases and accounts for 40 percent of the nation’s cases alone.”
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.
Rapp also shared recent information regarding additional federal funding coming into Pennsylvania from the Centers for Disease Control that can go directly to combatting tick-borne diseases.
For example, previous funding that was allocated for mosquito-borne diseases can now only be used by state and some local health departments in support of surveillance, prevention and education efforts for Lyme disease (and other tick-borne diseases) through CDC’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity cooperative agreement.
In Fiscal Year 2018, the CDC distributed approximately $152,146 to the state of Pennsylvania to fight against tick-borne diseases. A similar amount was also awarded to Pennsylvania for Fiscal Year 2017.
“While the CDC funding is significant, we especially need to do a better job at the state level to ensure that every patient diagnosed with Lyme disease and other related tick-borne diseases has access and insurance coverage for available and emerging diagnostics and treatment options,” said Rep. Rapp. “The legislation I am re-introducing would be a major win for those coping with this epidemic and I look forward to advancing this legislation to the full House for consideration in the very near future.”
Originally introduced during the 2017-18 legislative session, House Bill 174, was unanimously adopted by the House Health Committee, and was later advanced to the Senate by a strong 188-6 vote in the House.
For more information on this and other tick-borne diseases in Pennsylvania, visit the Department of Health’s Lyme Disease webpage.

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