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» LymeNet Flash » Questions and Discussion » Activism » Massachusetts residents *Call to Action*

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Author Topic: Massachusetts residents *Call to Action*
Samlyme
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I don't think I've noticed anyone mention the bill currently pending with the Massachusetts Ways and Means committee.

Bill #H4259 is intended to make insurance companies cover long term treatment for Lyme disease.

Doctors in Massachusetts are already protected by law and allowed to treat patients for Lyme disease beyond the cdc 28 day antibiotic regimen without having to face the threat of prosecution.

This bill is the next step we need to make insurance pay for the cost of longer term care.

MA friends & family, please call the MA House Ways and Means Committee *(617-722-2990) and contact your MA legislators https://malegislature.gov/People/Search in support of the MA Lyme Legislative Task Force edits to be made to H.4259 and for the bill to receive a favorable vote ASAP!

*7 days to go!!! Have you made your calls in support of the edits and passage of H.4259 today? *


Representative Speliotis is the sponsor of this and bill and ultimately he will have to fight for it despite the strong support of other legislators. His bill his fight!

Please call 617-722-2410 or [email protected]


FYI: Essential Edits and why they are needed:

1.We strongly recommend that the following phrase be added to the bill.

• For the purposes of this Section, the terms “Lyme Disease” and “long- term antibiotic therapy” are given the same definition as provided in M.G.L. Chapter 112, Section 12DD.

It is crucial as it references earlier Massachusetts law which legally defines “Lyme disease” and “long-­term antibiotic therapy.” Without this reference, insurance companies could legally question what constitutes “Lyme disease” or “long-­term antibiotic therapy.”

2. "And" must be switched to "or" in several areas, i.e. “after making a thorough evaluation of the patient’s symptoms, diagnostic test results OR response to treatment.” This is very important as it will not unduly burden the physician or the
patient by requiring all three components that are listed.

3. The language in the bill is not consistent with prior legislation: in one place it reads "long­-term antibiotic treatment." The problem is that long-­term antibiotic therapy is legally defined in prior legislation, and long-­term antibiotic treatment is not. We are advocating for simply switching the legally undefined "treatment" to the legally defined "therapy. "

4.We would suggest adding the term "licensed"; in front of physician, which is what is found in the Physician Protection Law.


Bill# H. 4259 bridges the gap between patients being prescribed treatment for Lyme disease and their ability to pay for it through insurance coverage. Insurers who deny coverage for care are costing Massachusetts families and the Massachusetts economy.

Don't let some insurance companies push the costs onto Massachusetts residents, employers, and economy. Say enough is enough!

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Samlyme
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Here's the bill

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/House/H4259


SECTION 1. Chapter 32A of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 17K the following section:-

Section 17L. Any coverage offered by the commission to an active or retired employee of the commonwealth insured under the group insurance commission that provides coverage for cancer chemotherapy treatment shall provide coverage for Lyme disease therapy.

SECTION 2. Chapter 175 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after section 47DD, the following section:-

Section 47EE. Any policy, contract, agreement, plan or certificate of insurance issued, delivered or renewed within the commonwealth that provides medical expense coverage shall provide coverage for diagnostic testing and long-term antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease when determined to be medically necessary and ordered by a physician after making a thorough evaluation of the patient’s symptoms, diagnostic test results and response to therapy. Therapy otherwise eligible for benefits pursuant to this section shall not be denied solely because such therapy may be characterized as unproven, experimental, or investigational in nature.

SECTION 3. Chapter 176A of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after section 8FF the following section:-

Section 8GG. Any contract between a subscriber and the corporation under an individual or group hospital service plan which is delivered, issued or renewed within the commonwealth shall provide coverage for diagnostic testing and long-term antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease when determined to be medically necessary and ordered by a physician after making a thorough evaluation of the patient’s symptoms, diagnostic test results and response to therapy. Therapy otherwise eligible for benefits pursuant to this section shall not be denied solely because such therapy may be characterized as unproven, experimental, or investigational in nature.

SECTION 4. Chapter 176B of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after section 4FF, the following section:-

Section 4GG. Any subscription certificate under an individual or group medical service agreement delivered, issued, or renewed within the commonwealth shall provide coverage for diagnostic testing and long-term antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease when determined to be medically necessary and ordered by a physician after making a thorough evaluation of the patient’s symptoms, diagnostic test results and response to therapy. Therapy otherwise eligible for benefits pursuant to this section shall not be denied solely because such therapy may be characterized as unproven, experimental, or investigational in nature.

SECTION 5. Chapter 176G of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after section 4X the following section:-

Section 4Y. Any individual or group health maintenance contract shall provide coverage for diagnostic testing and long-term antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease when determined to be medically necessary and ordered by a physician after making a thorough evaluation of the patient’s symptoms, diagnostic test results and response to therapy. Therapy otherwise eligible for benefits pursuant to this section shall not be denied solely because such therapy may be characterized as unproven, experimental, or investigational in nature.

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Samlyme
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Here's an article about the bill.

http://www.gloucestertimes.com/topstories/x2117419619/Bill-targets-Lyme-disease-insurance?zc_p=0


May 27, 2014
Bill targets Lyme disease insurance
By Christian M. Wade
Statehouse Reporter

BOSTON — Lyme disease patients who suffer chronic symptoms look to long-term antibiotics for help, but often they lose support of insurers who are only willing to pay for short-term treatment.

Rep. Theodore Speliotis, D-Danvers, has tried for nearly a decade to press insurance companies to pay. But his bill requiring coverage for antibiotics prescribed by a physician has languished under opposition from the healthcare industry.

The Lyme disease bill got a major endorsement last week from a state financial panel that concluded the cost of extending coverage would be minimal to the state and insurers. It still must be approved by the Legislature.

“Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed, and many people suffer for very long periods of time before they are diagnosed and treated properly,” said Speliotis. “But our current laws fall short in ensuring that people get covered for the long-term treatment they need.”

The medical community recognizes Lyme disease, but opinion diverges over whether it persists for more than a few weeks after an initial round of antibiotics. Chief among the skeptics is the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, representing insurers.

“From a clinical standpoint, there is no scientific evidence to support the diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease,” said Eric Linzer, a spokesman for the association. “There’s simply no evidence that the prolonged use of antibiotics will lead to better outcomes for patients. It’s just bad medicine.”

Most companies limit coverage of antibiotics to a 28-day period.

Linzer said the costs of state and federally mandated healthcare coverage weigh heavily on employers, and those costs increase because of government-mandated benefits.

The state’s insurers follow guidelines from the American College of Rheumatology, he said. It recommends against long-term antibiotics for Lyme disease, citing worries about overuse of antibiotics, among other public health concerns.

Susan Fairbanks-Pitzer, who leads a North Shore support group for Lyme patients, disagrees.

“There is scientific evidence,” she said. “The reality is the insurance companies don’t want to pay for the additional coverage because it costs them money. They’re basically nickel-and-diming people.”

Many Massachusetts families have been cut off from coverage, she said, forcing them to pay the entire cost of long-term antibiotic treatment, which can run $5,000 a month.

“It’s extremely shortsighted, because in the end, these people end up with more health care costs when other systems in their bodies become involved,” she said. “We don’t think insurance companies should be dictating what kind of care patients get.”

Spread by ticks, Lyme disease often causes rashes and flu-like symptoms in early stages and can lead to more serious complications if left untreated.

A single or double course of antibiotics successfully treats the majority of patients. But an estimated 10 to 20 percent can suffer symptoms — including fatigue, sleep disturbances, muscle and joint pain — for months or years after, according to the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease.

Advocates of long-term antibiotic treatment have won legislative support for expanded insurance coverage in states including Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Bills in Vermont and New York would protect doctors from punishment for prescribing long-term antibiotics for patients with lasting Lyme disease symptoms.

Nationwide, the number of cases of Lyme disease has held relatively steady over the past few years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patient advocacy groups and federal agencies say they expect this spring, summer and fall to be active seasons for ticks and Lyme.

But Massachusetts health officials — who haven’t taken a position on long-term treatment — say Lyme disease has reached “epidemic” levels in the state.

In 2012, the state reported the fifth-highest rate of confirmed cases in the nation, the CDC said.

The most recent data show 3,342 confirmed Lyme disease cases in Massachusetts and 1,708 probable cases reported in 2012. That was a 19 percent increase from the previous year.

Parts of Essex and Middlesex counties report the state’s highest levels of Lyme disease. There were 505 confirmed and probable cases in Essex County in 2012 and 774 in Middlesex County, according to the Department of Health.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @cmwade1969.


I know there's at least two Mass senators with Lyme so that's got to be good for something!

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/south/2013/12/08/republican-senators-robert-hedlund-richard-ross-have-another-thing-common-lyme-disease/kA3yo9pVU8FYX1R4Sf97MK/story.html

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Samlyme
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One great thing about this bill is that the state held an inquiry into the insurance costs of treating long term Lyme and it ended up being determined to be a 13 cent increase to insurance plans.


http://www.telegram.com/article/20140525/NEWS/305259757/1116

Study: Cost of expanded Lyme disease care is low
13 CENTS PER INSURANCE POLICY

A report released this week says insurance coverage of long-term antibiotic treatment of chronic Lyme disease would only increase insurance policies by about 13 cents.

The information from the state Center for Health Information and Analysis on Thursday is considered to be a major step for House Bill 989, which would require insurance carriers to provide coverage for antibiotic treatment lasting beyond 28 days when it is determined by a physician to be medically necessary. Passage of the bill would also require insurance coverage for diagnostic testing for the tick-borne disease.

In general, insurance companies only provide coverage of treatment for up to four weeks. The state currently has a law that protects physicians from medical board discipline for providing long-term antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease. But there is no legislation regarding insurance coverage for the treatment.

Reached by phone Friday, state Rep. Theodore C. Speliotis, D-Danvers, who filed the bill in January 2013, said the report is "great news."

He said the report concludes that in the best-case scenario, policyholders would see no increase in their insurance premiums and, at most, 13 cents per policy to extend coverage

"Those conclusions are extremely encouraging for those of us in the Legislature and for the families who have fought so hard to expand coverage," he said.

The report, he said, also helps define the scope of the disease. He said one of the biggest problems has been that some in the medical community have not recognized that Lyme is a chronic disease. He said the disease also has been misdiagnosed.

The full report is available at http://www.mass.gov/chia/docs/r/pubs/14/h989-mbr-lyme-disease.pdf.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

Mr. Speliotis said he filed the bill because it can cost $100,000 to $150,000 or more to be treated for the disease when extended treatment is not covered by insurance.

He said another motivation has been that although Massachusetts is one of the most technologically advanced states in the country, many people in the state are forced to go to Connecticut and other states to get treatment.

Trish McCleary of Sturbridge, a Lyme victim and member of the Massachusetts Lyme Legislative Task Force, said she and other task force members are excited about the report.

"Lyme cases are rising, and many families just can't afford treatment, often forced to leave jobs and school due to illness," she said. "Passage of House Bill 989 is the logical next step to address the Lyme crisis here in Massachusetts, finally offering patients the possibility to return to health and back to work."

In 2012, the state Department of Public Health confirmed 3,342 cases of the disease throughout the state and another 1,708 probable cases. The largest number of cases were in Middlesex and Plymouth counties, with 774 and 685 confirmed and probable cases respectively. Worcester County had 439 confirmed and probable cases.

Last August, at the 2013 International Conference on Lyme Borreliosis and Other Tick-Borne Diseases held in Boston, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year is approximately 300,000, 10 times more common than previously thought. In 2011, 96 percent of Lyme disease cases were reported from 13 states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.

According to the Center for Health Information and Analysis report, in a recent survey of eight of the largest insurance carriers in the state, all noted that oral antibiotic therapy, including multiple courses, and at least one round of intravenous antibiotic therapy, lasting between two and four weeks, are covered by their polices. Two may allow an additional course of intravenous antibiotics based on the guidelines of the Infectious Disease Society of America.

"Carriers are more likely to restrict the length of treatment with intravenous rather than oral antibiotics, although their responses indicate that these policies may change as some of their contracted pharmacy benefits management companies are currently developing their own limits to the long-term use of oral antibiotics," the report said.

Passage of House Bill 989 would not apply to self-insured plans, Medicare, Medicaid/MassHealth and federally funded plans.

The bill is still in the Joint Committee on Financial Services. Mr. Speliotis, the bill's sponsor, said he feels confident the committee will look at the bill in a positive light. He said advocates have been pushing for legislation of this nature for more than a decade.

"Quite clearly, over the years, the one thing that has changed drastically is just about everybody has been impacted by Lyme disease somehow…immediate family, extended family… friends. That has changed the dynamics for the Legislature to be more receptive," he said.

Contact Elaine Thompson at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @EThompsonTG.

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Samlyme
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I called Representative Speliotis, the sponsor of the bill, and my senator. I spoke with both of their aids and left a message leaving my name and contact info.

I said I wanted to know if my senator supported the passage of bill #H4259. And I wanted them to know that I feel it's important to support of the MA Lyme Legislative Task Force edits to the bill. And, obviously, that I support this bill.

They wanted to know where my interest in the bill was coming from so I told them about having Lyme and knowing a lot of other people in the same circumstances.

I told them that I've paid out of pocket for long term treatment and I know personally that continued treatment works. I pointed out that a lot of cancer treatments aren't proven to cure people but that's not grounds for denying care.

I also pointed out that Boston prides itself on having some of the best hospitals in the country and given that we live in an endemic region for Lyme disease we should be at the forefront of healthcare for this disease.

I mentioned that it took me five years to get diagnosed and I feel that just shows how much ignorance there is in the medical field regarding Lyme disease. There needs to be more of a precedent set for treating people with Lyme disease and insurance companies denying coverage doesn't help the situation.

I don't know, they were nice. They took down my contact info. Now I feel like I've done a little something to help.

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poppy
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Thanks for all the info, Sam. Hope all you people from Mass will hit the phones. An important piece of legislation.
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dbpei
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Thanks for all of your hard work, Sam! I am so glad you have shared your story to enlighten those able to make a difference.

I have contacted my state reps and senators on this and then contacted everyone on the Joint Committee after getting some prompts from my local Lyme support group facilitators. I pray this bill will pass. It is so important!

Thank you for bringing this important information to Lymenet! Hopefully it will result in getting some more calls and letters written so the legislators understand the importance of all of this. [Smile]

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KarlaL
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Thank you for posting so much information on this incredibly important bill. We need this bill in every state, but few advocates have tried to do so, because they believe that it is almost impossible to get an insurance bill passed. Rhode Island lead the way a few years ago and now I believe that Massachusetts is very close to succeeding as well. If you are from MA, please do what you can to help in this effort and do it soon. There are only five days left in the current MA legislative session.

I've been supporting this bill (including making four trips to the MA Statehouse) because I believe that my daughter's life depends on it. I also believe that getting this bill passed will create the impetus to propel other states (including NY next year) to follow suit.

--------------------
KarlaL

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Catgirl
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Wow, thank you so much for posting this! I almost missed it (been off lymenet)!

--------------------
--Keep an open mind about everything. Also, remember to visit ACTIVISM (we can change things together).

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dbpei
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Just got this email today from the Lyme activists doing so much work to get this bill passed:

To contact the Governor's office toll free: 888.870.7770 (in state)

The MA House Ways and Means Committee has been sitting on the Lyme bill since July 7th and it will effectively die there, unless it is moved forward in these last few days of the legislative session.

Thanks to your efforts, An Act Relative to Lyme Disease Treatment Coverage received favorable votes by the Joint Committee of Financial Services, the Joint Committee of Healthcare Financing, and a good report from the Center for Health and Information Analysis.

To come this far only to be stalled in the House Ways and Means Committee is truly upsetting to all of us who have worked so hard to get this bill passed.

It appears that a price tag was added to the bill in the Joint Committee on Healthcare Financing which may have been due to the amendment that representatives added which would provide coverage for themselves.

We are not sure if this was just a thinly veiled way to kill the bill (by adding a price tag) that thousands of Massachusetts residents are counting on, but it is possible.

Please Call your MA Legislators and the MA House Ways and Means Chairman Dempsey at 617-722-2990 and ask them to make the MA Lyme Legislative Task Force Edits and push H.4259 forward today!


If you live in MA, PLEASE CALL!!

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Catgirl
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Thanks Dbpei!

I called the house ways and means committee and they weren't sure about the addition of edits from MA Lyme Legislative Task Force. It sounds like they might be trying to ignore them.

I think we need more people to push the edits. I will call again.

--------------------
--Keep an open mind about everything. Also, remember to visit ACTIVISM (we can change things together).

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Rumigirl
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OMG, this is so important! Thank you for your work.
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KarlaL
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If you haven't done so yet, please still call your MA Assemblyperson and Senator and express your support for passage of H.4259 with the Massachusetts Lyme Legislative Task Force edits. Just don't call the general MA House Ways and Means Committee phone number.

KarlaL

Begin forwarded message:

Hi everyone,

We have gotten what we believe to be some good information: that the bill will not die on July 31, but instead can continue, along with some other bills still in the pipeline, in informal session.

We have also heard from more than one key legislator that we should hold off, for now, on contacting House Ways and Means, UNLESS one of your own representatives is on that committee. They heard us, and they heard YOU, thanks! The representatives will be in session tomorrow, and we know that they will be talking to one another about moving this bill forward. It will not be debated yet, but some of our key legislators will be speaking personally to other representatives and encouraging support for the bill.

This is what we want, a bit of “positive peer pressure” to move this bill!

Thank you for all your help in getting legislators informed about the bill. You helped keep it alive. We hope to have more information by the end of this week.

Regards,

The Massachusetts Lyme Legislative Task Force

--------------------
KarlaL

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Samlyme
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Not great news on the bill… :-(


Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:02 pm (PDT) . Posted by: "Michelle"

We are so sorry to report that H.4259 was not passed tonight. This is part of the update that we just received from the Representative Speliotis' aide:

"H4259 has not been released by House Ways and Means. As far as I know, Ways and Means does not anticipate releasing any further bills *tonight*… I share your frustration and disappointment that H4259 did not emerge from committee tonight, but we are *not* finished fighting for insurance coverage for proper treatment."

Thank you for all of your phone calls, e-mails, testimony, and support. As of midnight, the legislative session moved from formal to informal, which means that all that is needed to block the passage of a bill is one vote against it. Will be in touch regarding next steps.

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dbpei
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So discouraging. [Frown]
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Catgirl
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This makes me sick.

--------------------
--Keep an open mind about everything. Also, remember to visit ACTIVISM (we can change things together).

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BobG
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No surprise here. For all its talk of providing healthcare and access to needed medical care to all, Massachusetts hypocrits don't deliver when people need their help.

[ 08-10-2014, 03:21 PM: Message edited by: BobG ]

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BobG
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Is there any insight on exactly why it did not emerge from the committee other than they weren't working very hard?

[ 08-10-2014, 03:21 PM: Message edited by: BobG ]

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Samlyme
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The Massachusetts bill # H.4259 intended to enforce insurance coverage for Lyme disease for longer than four weeks was not passed.

Earlier this year the state had commissioned a report from the state Center for Health Information and Analysis to assess how the bill would increase the cost of insurance policies. It was determined that at most the price of individual policy coverage would increase 13 cents and in the best case scenario there would be absolutely no increase in costs.

Days before the end of the legislative session a company called Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) met with the legislature to voice their opposition to the bill on behalf of small business owners.

According to a letter to the legislature from an actual small business owner supporting the bill “AIM seemed to be consistently representing and lobbying for only big business interests on Beacon Hill. These interests were typically insurance companies and health care providers.”

- Rick Lord, President and CEO of AIM also serves on the board of
Massachusetts insurance companies:
http://www.aimnet.org/about-aim/about-aim-team.cfm

- Prior to joining AIM, Mr. Lord served as *Chief of Staff for the
Committee on Ways and Means of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.*

Coincidentally the Lyme insurance bill was permanently stalled in the House Ways and Means Committee and did not make it into this years legislative session to be voted on. It will need to be refiled next year.

This is what our democracy looks like.

http://www.telegram.com/article/20140820/NEWS/308209577/1116

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Samlyme
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I've never actively followed MA legislative process before but from what I've gleaned from various emails sent by the MA Lyme Legislative task force is that the bill moved slowly through whatever different committees it needed to move through.

I think the ways and means committee was the bills last stop before it could be voted on. It sat there until the end of the legislative session.

It sounds like the legislature passes or denies a large number of backlogged bills towards the very end of the legislative session so the only ones that move forward to that stage at that point are ones that don't have any controversial issues.

With the favorable insurance cost report it looked like the lyme bill didn't have anyone contesting it until the last few weeks before it was intended to be decided on.

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BobG
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Thanks SamLyme. Does anyone know who we need to apply pressure to on that Committee? I am a small business owner and no one asked what I think.
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Samlyme
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It seemed like after the bill failed it was decided that we need to work on building more public support for the bill. Everyone with lyme and their loved ones all called the senators nonstop urging them to vote favorably but the people with the bigger connections won. The legislature needs social pressure or we need the support of more powerful interest groups. Or both.

If you join the Massachusetts lyme yahoo group you can get regular updates on the task forces future plans. You just need to open a yahoo account and search within the groups page. It seems like they're taking a break for now after the defeat, I haven't heard anything regarding the bill since.

I'm not positive but I think the bill is dead and needs to start over from the beginning. That doesn't really sound right though so I'm not sure.

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KarlaL
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Legislator plans to refile Lyme disease bill next session

By Elaine Thompson TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
[email protected]

http://www.telegram.com/article/20140820/NEWS/308209577/1116

State Rep. Theodore Speliotis, D-Danvers, said he plans to refile a bill to help provide extended treatment for Lyme disease patients next session, after opponents stalled the bill at the end of this session.

Mr. Speliotis said he had been optimistic the bill, which has been filed in some form for 10 years, had a good chance of passing before the session ended July 31, but he didn't count on opponents stepping in at the last minute to stop the bill.

House Bill 4259 would have provided insurance coverage for diagnostic testing and long-term antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease after being ordered by a physician. In general, insurance companies only provide coverage of treatment for up to four weeks.

Mr. Speliotis and other advocates of the bill were hopeful after a comprehensive report from the state Center for Health Information and Analysis that said, in the best-case scenario, policyholders would see no increase in their insurance premiums, or at most, 13 cents per policy to extend coverage for antibiotics.

"The opposition raised its head at the end. I was disappointed that I didn't see that coming, so that was my fault," Mr. Speliotis said in a recent telephone interview. "I will file again. I really do think it has a chance to pass. You build momentum from session to session. That's how you pass a bill." He said the legislation moved more in the past session than it did in 10 years.

Advocates who have been personally affected by the disease said they are disappointed their hard work did not pay off. Hundreds wrote and called legislators and testified at a public hearing last fall.

Trish McCleary, a longtime victim of the disease and co-founder of Sturbridge Lyme Awareness of Massachusetts, said Mr. Speliotis could have done more to champion his bill. As a member of the Massachusetts Lyme Legislative Task Force, she worked to push the bill forward. She said it's time Massachusetts demands transparency and accountability of officials who repeatedly ignore the pleas of the people.

"The voices of the people should never be hushed by lobbyists paid by insurance companies," said Ms. McCleary. "Our Massachusetts leaders should demand better from legislators when cries from the people are so apparent, as is the case with the present Lyme epidemic."

In a letter dated July 9, representatives of 11 organizations, including business owners, chambers of commerce and health insurers, sent a letter to Rep. Robert A. DeLeo, speaker of the House, and Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee asking that the Lyme bill, as well as two other bills that would have mandate insurance coverage, be sent back to the Health Care Financing Committee.

The opponents said they are concerned that the bills would be a burden on employers, particularly small-business owners.

Francis R. Carroll, founder and chief executive officer of Worcester-based Small Business Service Bureau, one of the people who signed the letter of opposition, said he opposes mandated benefits. He said small-business owners are already hurting from mandates in the federal Affordable Care Act. Mr. Carroll said he does not believe the estimate of low costs added to premiums, had the Lyme bill passed.

"I don't buy that at all. A lot of these studies I've learned to take a real hard look at," he said. "I think the government should pick up the cost. We're paying high enough taxes for it."

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in the country, infecting an estimated 300,000 people each year. Massachusetts has the fifth-highest number of cases in the country. There were more than 5,000 confirmed and probable cases in 2012, the latest year for which data are available from the state Department of Public Health. Most people who are treated in the early stages with one or two treatments of 10 to 28 days of antibiotics have a good chance of recovery. But when the illness is misdiagnosed and improperly treated, people can suffer long-term symptoms of fatigue, aching joints, speech problems, decreased memory and ability to concentrate.

The medical community is split on whether there is persistent or chronic Lyme disease and how the illness should be treated.

Contact Elaine Thompson at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @EThompsonTG

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KarlaL

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BobG
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It is not a mandate. It says a doctor who practices medicine and a patient who is sick should have it covered like any other microbial disease. Why, exactly, does Carroll think this disease should be handled differently?
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BobG
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If Mr Carroll doesn't like the cost of mandated education, try the cost of ignorance. If he took an enlightened view of this disease, he would realize it is cheaper to treat the disease that all the lingering chronic maladies.
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Samlyme
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It seems like these "small business associations" are just front groups for lobbyists or something. Mr Carroll would probably vote against treating cancer patients if he could.
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shazdancer
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Carroll is against ANY health insurance add-ons because they increase premiums paid by the employer offering insurance for their staff. As the director of a small organization, I would rather pay a few pennies so I can keep my employees if they get sick than to lose them to undertreated Lyme disease. (It is more cost-effective, AND I care about my employees!)

Please don't come down hard on this committee, as there were many state reps pushing in favor of it. The committee could have voted against this bill and killed it. Instead, they left the door open to re-file it, and it will be.

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BobG
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I'm sorry, but if many on the committee wanted it, how could one whiny sneaky lobbyist derail it? How did that happen exactly?
Posts: 360 | From Massachusetts | Registered: Dec 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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