It would require insurance companies to pay for treatment.
Annapolis, Md (KM). Members of the Maryland General Assembly are considering a Lyme disease bill this session. The legislation sponsored by Frederick County Delegate Karen Lewis Young would require insurance companies to cover their patients’ treatment for Lyme disease. It would also prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage under certain conditions.
“Maryland is a high Lyme disease state,” says Young. “In fact, 95% of all Lyme is in about 10 states. And I would say Maryland is number six. So we have a very high concentration of Lyme disease, and it’s even more prevalent in rural areas.”
Lyme disease is caused by the bite of a deer tick. It can lead to a rash, and flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills and body aches. The ticks are usually found in heavily wooded and grassy areas.
Delegate Young says she’s heard from her constituents about this issues, many complaining that their insurance companies are refusing to cover treatment for Lyme disease. “We have so many stories of people who’ve gone bankrupt. They’ve lost their jobs; they’ve lost their homes either trying to pay for it out of their own pocket, or they just didn’t get treated at all. And there’ve been some very unfortunate stories,” she says.
The legislation filed in the House of Delegates has 38 co-sponsors, including Delegates Kathy Afzali, Barrie Cilliberti, William Folden and David Vogt. A similar bill sponsored by Senate Brian Feldman has been crossed-filed in the State Senate.
Both chambers will hold hearings on the bill on Wednesday, February 28th beginning at 1:00 PM. Delegate Young says this is a little unusual as both houses hold hearings on the same bills at different times. But she says the House and Senate made an exception this time. “First of all, most of the people coming in to testify are very ill, and we didn’t want to ask them to come back twice. And secondly, we have a young women with an incredible story whose flying here from Colorado,” she says.
Delegate Young says anyone who can’t make in person to the hearings next week can send in written comments. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. She says she will make sure every legislator on the House committee receives copies of the statements from citizens.
By Kevin McManus