HARRISBURG – For the second consecutive session, legislation sponsored by House Health Committee Chair Kathy Rapp (R-Warren/Crawford/Forest) that would require health insurers to cover treatment plans for Lyme disease or related tick-borne illnesses as prescribed by a patient’s health care practitioner (House Bill 1033
) was advanced in the Pennsylvania House today by a solid bipartisan vote of 136-66.
“It’s no secret that Pennsylvania has ranked among the highest in the nation for the number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease for nearly a decade,” said Rapp. “This legislation is a win-win to ensure that every patient diagnosed with this epidemic and other related tick-borne diseases has full access and insurance coverage for available and emerging diagnostics and treatment options, regardless if the treatment plan includes short-term or long-term antibiotic treatment.”
Watch Rep. Rapp’s comments preceding today’s passage of House Bill 1033
In the last eight years, Pennsylvania has ranked highest in the country in the number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease. Since 2016, Pennsylvania has reported more than 10,000 cases of Lyme disease annually, which translates to 122,000 new cases and about 40% of the nation’s cases in Pennsylvania alone.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted primarily by ticks and is caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, such as babesiosis, bartonellosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and others, pose a serious threat to the quality of life of many Pennsylvanians.
Lyme disease can be easily treated with antibiotics when caught and treated early. If untreated, the disease can cause joint swelling, cardiac or neurologic complications. The most severe cases can be debilitating.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, a bull’s eye rash may appear, and other symptoms that can be mistaken for viral infections, such as influenza or infectious mononucleosis. Joint pain can be mistaken for other types of arthritis, such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), and neurologic signs of Lyme disease can mimic those caused by other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
House Bill 1033 now advances to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Kathy Rapp
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Ty McCauslin