GovOfficials and LYME
Listed below are statements from government officials on LYME and related issues. Those marked (none) have either not yet been contacted or have not responded to inquires. All government officials are encouraged to submit their position on LYME disease. If you have a response from a government official and would like to share such, please email email@example.com
Governor Andrew Cuomo (none)
Cuomo signs bill safeguarding Lyme treatments
Doctors who prescribe longer courses of antibiotic treatments for Lyme disease have new protections under state law today.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill late Wednesday that prohibits the state Office of Professional Medical Conduct from investigating a licensed physician based solely upon the recommendation or provision of a treatment that is not universally accepted by the medical profession.
Those protections include, but are not limited to, treatments for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
The measure was passed unanimously by the state Legislature in the spring, and had been under review by Cuomo's lawyers for months.
In a memo, Cuomo said the Legislature had agreed to include an amendment to address "certain technical and implementation flaws that would limit (the state's) ability to conduct an inquiry or investigation into a certain category of complaints thereby putting the public at risk."
Cuomo's memo did not detail what those flaws are.
News of Cuomo's approval prompted messages of relief and support from the Lyme disease community.
"We did it!" wrote Jill Auerbach, chairwoman of the Hudson Valley Lyme Disease Association, in an email to supporters. "It was our ability to work together that we were able to educate the (state) government to the dire need for sick people to be treated as individuals, especially when the science on persistence of borreliosis (Lyme and other borrelia) is not settled."
"This law has been a long time in coming, but it's done!" wrote Chris Fisk of the Lyme Action Network. "There may be some technical tweaks, but we are assured that they do not alter the intent of the bills that were unanimously passed in both the Senate and Assembly."
The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Kemp Hannon, a Republican from Nassau County, and chairman of the state Senate Health Committee.
In the Assembly, it was sponsored by Didi Barrett, the Democrat from Millbrook.
In a statement, Barrett said the legislation "was a hard-won victory for all of our neighbors, family members and friends who have struggled to find treatment."
Dr. Kenneth Liegner, a Pawling-based physician, was investigated twice by the state over his treatment of Lyme disease.
He said that in both instances, he was able to successfully defend his practices on their merits.
"But it was very stressful and very costly," he said. "And it very much distracted from my care of other patients."
Liegner said the fact the bill received unanimous support in the state Legislature is another indication that longstanding doubt within the medical community about the validity of chronic Lyme disease is disappearing.
The science supporting diagnoses of chronic Lyme disease, he said, "is so strong that the mainstream is beginning to reassess its position."
John Ferro: 845-437-4816; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @PoJoEnviro
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (email response)
September 30, 2016
Thank you for writing to me about Lyme and tick-borne diseases and your support for the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act (S. 1503). I am very concerned about this public health threat, and I agree that there is an urgent need for a strong federal response to Lyme and tick-borne diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States. In 2014, Lyme disease was the fifth most common nationally notifiable disease, and 96 percent of reported cases occurred in just fourteen states, including New York. In 2014, state health departments and the District of Columbia reported over 33,000 confirmed or probable cases of Lyme disease to the CDC, including 3,736 cases in New York. However, the CDC estimates that the total number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year is likely ten times the number of reported cases. In addition to Lyme disease, there are thirteen tick-borne diseases spread by nine species of tick in the United States.
The public health threat of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases demands a strong and coordinated federal response. To help achieve this goal, I am an original cosponsor of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act (S. 1503). This legislation would establish a Tick-Borne Diseases Advisory Committee within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to bring together patients, advocates, researchers, medical professionals, and government officials to facilitate interagency coordination, identify opportunities for collaboration, and ensure that a broad spectrum of scientific viewpoints are represented in public health policy decisions. In addition, the bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the advisory committee, to support activities to strengthen disease surveillance and reporting, develop better diagnostic tools, increase public and physician education related to Lyme disease, explore the development of a safe and effective vaccine, and prepare regular reports to Congress on the progress of efforts to combat these devastating diseases.
As an original co-sponsor of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act, I sent a letter in February 2016 to the leadership of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions urging them to pass the bill through their committee so that it can come to the Senate Floor for a vote. In March 2016, I wrote to my colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee requesting that they provide sufficient funding in the upcoming fiscal year to support the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ work related to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. To better educate Congressional staff on Lyme disease and the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act, I co-hosted a briefing in April 2016 along with my colleagues Sens. Blumenthal and Ayotte. I will continue to work with my colleagues and advocate for passage of this important legislation to ensure that the United States takes a strong and coordinated approach to combatting Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
Thank you again for writing to express your concerns, and I hope that you keep in touch with my office regarding future legislation. For more information on this and other important issues, please visit my website at http://gillibrand.senate.gov and sign up for my e-newsletter.
United States Senator
US Senator Chuck Shumer (email response)
Thank you for writing to express your support for Lyme disease prevention and treatment. Like you, I believe that awareness is key to combating this devastating disease.
As you know, New York State has a high concentration of ticks infected with Lyme, resulting in a high number of cases. That makes finding a cure all the more important for New Yorkers.
That’s why I have consistently supported efforts to promote awareness of Lyme disease and its need for research funding. For example, I am an original cosponsor of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act which would establish an advisory committee within the Department of Health and Human Services that focuses solely on efforts to address Lyme disease. It would also support surveillance and diagnosis activities that would improve education for the public and health care providers.
The Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. While I am not a member of this committee, I will monitor this bill closely as it moves through the Senate. We must invest in prevention, awareness, and treatment of Lyme disease so our families will be protected against this debilitating disease.
Again, thank you for contacting me about this important issue. Please feel free to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance on this or any other matter.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
To send message please visit my website at https://www.schumer.senate.gov/Contact/contact_chuck.cfm
State Senator Joe Griffo (none)
US REP: ELISE STEFANIK (none)
US REP: RICHARD HANNA (none)
NYS Assemblywoman: Claudia Tenney (none)
NYS Assemblyman Marc W. Butler (none)