Assemblymember Barrett launches video urging Cuomo to sign Lyme Bill
Interested residents can share videos of their stories on social media
With support from neighbors and advocates from across the state, Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D- Dutchess, Columbia) launched a video calling on Governor Cuomo to sign legislation she authored that would expand treatment options for those suffering from Lyme disease (A.7558B). The video can be found here: http://bit.ly/LymeBill
“New York State is at the center of this very serious public health issue,” stated Assemblymember Didi Barrett. “We need Governor Cuomo to stand up and show that New York will lead in protecting people suffering from chronic Lyme.”
Barrett’s office has been hearing from people throughout the state and around the country. If enacted into law, the bill would ensure that those with Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses have the same rights as those with other diseases: to be seen and treated by the practitioner of their choice, to be informed that there are differing professional judgments about the appropriate care for Lyme disease, and to participate in the choice of treatment as it pertains to their circumstance and preference.
At a press conference announcing his support for Assemblymember Didi Barrett, Senator Charles Schumer, a leader and staunch advocate for patients with Lyme throughout the state and the nation, also declared his support for expanding treatment options for those with Lyme and called on Governor Cuomo to sign Barrett’s bill into law.
Over 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these numbers, 96 percent are concentrated in 13 states, including New York, with the highest rates reported in Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Putnam, Orange and Ulster counties. If caught early, Lyme can generally be treated with antibiotics; however, some patients suffer lingering, debilitating symptoms and doctors in New York are not allowed to prescribe them the medicine they need.
Barrett’s bill garnered unanimous support in both the Assembly and Senate. “The outpouring of support for this bill speaks to the urgency of the situation,” stated Didi Barrett. “We are counting on Governor Cuomo to do the right thing and hear the voices of the people.”
Councilman Terry Kellogg of Chenango, New York, is the caregiver of a Lyme victim himself. In a letter he wrote to Barrett he stated, “I have never been more motivated to action as I am for this legislation to be made into law. To see a loved one suffer due to the invisible barriers put in place by insurers and the AMA [American Medical Association] just to protect the financial coffers of businesses who would suffer financially if this legislation becomes law is heartbreaking.”
Although anyone can get Lyme disease, children are at particular risk – 37 percent of reported cases by the CDC are children. It further calculates that from 1990-2011, adjusted for underreporting, over 1.5 million children have developed Lyme.
Karla Lehtonen, a Lyme disease support group leader and mother of a child with Lyme, stated, “I was present at a Congressional briefing in Washington DC last December, when a pediatric infectious disease specialist from Weill Cornell Medical Center said that pediatricians are admitting to her that they are not ordering testing for children that they suspect have Lyme disease. This is a public health crisis and NYS residents deserve better from our state government. The New York State Legislature has recognized the need restore balance to this situation by unanimously passing S7854-A7558B. Now it is time for the Governor Cuomo to also demonstrate leadership and sign this important bill.”
Residents interested in helping the Lyme bill to become law can share their personal story in a short video. The video can be posted online on Didi Barrett’s Facebook page and will be combined to send to the Governor’s office. Each video should answer the following questions:
- How has Lyme affected your life and your loved ones?
- What would it mean to you if this measure was enacted into law?