FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Maggie Shaw, Newtown Lyme Disease Task Force
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Pat Smith, President, Lyme Disease Association, Inc.
CONNECTICUT DOCTOR PROTECTION BILL FOR LYME SIGNED BY GOVERNOR RELL
Newtown, CT, JUNE 21, 2009 − Patient groups across Connecticut and the nation are elated by the June 21 announcement by Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell that she has signed the Lyme disease doctor protection bill, following its recent unanimous passage in both houses of the Connecticut General Assembly.
HB 6200 contains language that will protect Connecticut licensed Lyme treating physicians from prosecution by the State of Connecticut Medical Examining Board solely on the basis of a clinical diagnosis and /or for treatment of long-term Lyme disease. The bill provides the definition for Lyme disease which includes “the presence in a patient of signs and symptoms compatible with acute infection with Borrelia burgdorferi; or with late stage or persistent or chronic infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, or with complications related to such an infection.” It also defines clinical diagnosis as determined by a physician “…that is based on knowledge obtained through the medical history and physical examination alone, or in conjunction with the testing that provides supportive data for such clinical diagnosis.” In addition, it provides for updating the Lyme disease definition if other strains are found to cause Lyme disease.
This law resulted from months of negotiations between Legislative Leaders, the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the undersigned patient Groups. According to Maggie Shaw, Newtown Lyme Disease Task Force, who has been a leader in the Connecticut effort, “This law will be a relief to the families in CT who will finally be able to receive care in their own communities and their own state. One of the burdens of Lyme disease, finding treatment, will be lifted from their shoulders, as this law offers hope to residents that more physicians who are knowledgeable about Lyme disease will be encouraged to practice within the State of Connecticut.”
Pat Smith, president of the national Lyme Disease Association, who has been working and meeting with legislators in Hartford to secure passage, commented on the new law: “Justice has been served. Human health has finally triumphed over vested interest in the Lyme capital of the world. Lyme patients and treating physicians in Connecticut can breathe a collective sigh of relief. For years, they have not only been battling the disease but also battling the politics which have prevented patients from getting treatment and physicians from treating. Governor Rell and the Legislature have come down on the side of the people.”
The Groups extend their gratitude to Governor Jodi Rell and the General Assembly, and in particular, Representatives Jason Bartlett, Kim Fawcett, Chris Lyddy, and Peggy Reeves, and Senator Jonathan Harris and Representative Betsy Ritter, Co-Chairs of the Joint Public Health Committee. The support of patients, families, members of the Lyme community, the Connecticut Medical Society, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and the International Lyme & Associated Diseases Society was invaluable.
Connecticut becomes the third state in the nation to have a law that protects physicians who treat Lyme disease long term.
For wording on the bill, please go to http://www.cga.ct.gov/ HB6200 (File # 903).
Lyme Disease Association, Inc.
Newtown Lyme Disease Task Force
Ridgefield Lyme Disease Task Force
Time For Lyme, Inc.
Lyme Disease Association, Eastern Connecticut Chapter