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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: December 7, 2012 02:18 PM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
To: All Senate members
Subject: Lyme & Related Tick-Borne Disease Surveillance, Education, Prevention & Treatment Act
I am reintroducing Senate Bill 210, the Lyme and Related Tick-Borne Disease Surveillance, Education, Prevention and Treatment Act. During the 2011-12 legislative session, Senate Bill 210 was amended and reported out of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. The amended version represented a compromise reached with interested parties. The bill I am reintroducing is nearly identical to Senate Bill 210 as reported out of the committee except for minor revisions.

The intent of the legislation is to provide the public with information and education to create greater public awareness of the dangers of and measures available to prevent, diagnose and treat Lyme disease and related maladies. It is also intended to ensure that: (1) Medical professionals, insurers, patients and governmental agencies are educated about treatment options; (2) Medical professionals provide patients with sufficient information about treatment options to enable patients to make an informed choice as part of informed consent and to respect the autonomy of choice; and (3) Pennsylvania government agencies provide unbiased information regarding multiple standards of care.

The legislation directs the Department of Health to establish a 20-member task force on Lyme disease and related tick-borne diseases to investigate and make recommendations

The task force shall issue a report with recommendations to the Secretary of Health within one year of its first meeting. The report shall also be transmitted to the Public Health and Welfare Committee of the Senate and the Health Committee of the House of Representatives. Nothing in this act shall prohibit the task force from making interim reports. The members of the task force shall receive no compensation for their services but shall be allowed their actual and necessary expenses incurred in performance of their duties.

The department shall have the following powers and duties: (1) Develop a program of general public and health care professional information and education regarding Lyme disease; (2) Develop an active tick collection, testing and surveillance program in cooperation with DEP to provide a better understanding of, including, but not limited to, the full range of tick-borne diseases, geographic hot spots and levels of infectivity to be used in targeting prevention and education efforts; (3) Cooperate with various state agencies to help disseminate public education and information regarding Lyme disease; and (4) Cooperate with associations of health care professionals to provide an education program for professionals on Lyme disease.

From 2006 to 2011, total reported cases of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania have more than doubled. During 2010, Pennsylvania ranked first in the nation with 3,805 confirmed and probable cases, and according to CDC provisional numbers for 2011, an additional increase to 7,484 cases was expected, which again would rank Pennsylvania first in the nation. While Lyme disease is most prevalent in Southeastern PA, it is found across the Commonwealth. The early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of these tick-borne disorders and diseases can greatly reduce risks of continued symptoms which affect every system and organ in the body. Lyme disease poses a serious threat to quality of life of many Pennsylvanians and we need to provide greater public awareness.

Introduced as SB177