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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 4, 2020 01:15 PM
From: Senator Michele Brooks
To: All Senate members
Subject: Legislation to Improve Lyme Disease Testing and Coverage for Testing in PA
It has come to my attention that the most comprehensive testing for Lyme disease is not always being done in Pennsylvania, or not always being covered by health insurers.  To rectify this, I will be introducing legislation to improve testing and insurance coverage for Lyme disease testing.
Pennsylvania leads the nation in Lyme disease cases. In 2018, 10,208 Lyme disease cases were reported in PA, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates under-reporting by a factor of 10, projecting occurrence rates, more accurately, in the 100,000s.  From 2000 to 2018, there have been 106,718 confirmed Lyme disease cases in PA, but again, due to the fact that the CDC’s data only represents confirmed cases, the actual quantity of Lyme disease cases may be far greater, possibly over 1,000,000.  Approximately one in four cases of Lyme disease occurred in children, and children ages 5 to 9 are at the greatest risk for contracting Lyme.
Early diagnosis is crucial to preventing the persistent symptoms of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.  Left untreated or improperly treated, Lyme disease can lead to debilitating symptoms, which include fevers, rash, facial paralysis, arthritis, swollen lymph nodes, muscle and joint aches, severe headaches, irregular heartbeat, memory loss and nerve pain.  But, if treated within the first 30 days, 10% or less of patients will progress to late stage.  If more than 30 days pass without treatment, 60% of patients progress to late stage. By improving testing, it is hoped that cases of Lyme can be treated early, before symptoms worsen in severity.
This disease is curable, and if we are more aggressive in diagnosing Lyme earlier through more thorough and comprehensive testing it will give people the ability to overcome this disease and not be debilitated for the rest of their life.  This will be a more proactive approach to helping people fight this disease, and ultimately less costly for the healthcare system in the long term. 
Thank you for your consideration of joining me as a cosponsor of this important legislation.

Introduced as SB1188