Thursday, January 15, 2015

Update on Lyme treatment laws

As you may know, there have been some recent victories for those of us who are dealing with chronic Lyme disease treatment. I posted about this earlier but here is a little more language and some links about the latest victories.

The Federal Lyme Bill HR #4701 passed on September 9 and was sent to languish in the Committee
on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in the US Senate.

In other news, you all may know that the NY Lyme Bill was signed by Governor Cuomo on December 17th.

Read the story in the Poughkeepsie Journal: 

I am copying it below in the event you are not a PoJo subscriber and can not access the article without
promising to subscribe in the future.


Cuomo signs bill safeguarding Lyme treatments

Doctors who prescribe longer courses of antibiotic treatments for Lyme disease have new protections under state law today.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill late Wednesday that prohibits the state Office of Professional Medical Conduct from investigating a licensed physician based solely upon the recommendation or provision of a treatment that is not universally accepted by the medical profession.

Those protections include, but are not limited to, treatments for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

The measure was passed unanimously by the state Legislature in the spring, and had been under review by Cuomo's lawyers for months.

In a memo, Cuomo said the Legislature had agreed to include an amendment to address "certain technical and implementation flaws that would limit (the state's) ability to conduct an inquiry or investigation into a certain category of complaints thereby putting the public at risk."

Cuomo's memo did not detail what those flaws are.

News of Cuomo's approval prompted messages of relief and support from the Lyme disease community.

"We did it!" wrote Jill Auerbach, chairwoman of the Hudson Valley Lyme Disease Associationin an email to supporters. "It was our ability to work together that we were able to educate the (state) government to the dire need for sick people to be treated as individuals, especially when the science on persistence of borreliosis (Lyme and other borrelia) is not settled."

"This law has been a long time in coming, but it's done!" wrote Chris Fisk of the Lyme Action Network. "There may be some technical tweaks, but we are assured that they do not alter the intent of the bills that were unanimously passed in both the Senate and Assembly."

The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Kemp Hannon, a Republican from Nassau County, and chairman of the state Senate Health Committee.

In the Assembly, it was sponsored by Didi Barrett, the Democrat from Millbrook.

In a statement, Barrett said the legislation "was a hard-won victory for all of our neighbors, family members and friends who have struggled to find treatment."

Dr. Kenneth Liegner, a Pawling-based physician, was investigated twice by the state over his treatment of Lyme disease.

He said that in both instances, he was able to successfully defend his practices on their merits.

"But it was very stressful and very costly," he said. "And it very much distracted from my care of other patients."

Liegner said the fact the bill received unanimous support in the state Legislature is another indication that longstanding doubt within the medical community about the validity of chronic Lyme disease is disappearing.

The science supporting diagnoses of chronic Lyme disease, he said, "is so strong that the mainstream is beginning to reassess its position."

John Ferro:; Twitter: @PoJoEnviro

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