A Rockland lawmaker is promoting a measure to force insurance companies to pay for controversial treatments sometimes used for Lyme disease.
Senator David Carlucci, D-New City, gathered proponents of long-term treatment for Lyme Disease in New City on Friday to push for new measures that would require insurance companies to pay for the treatments and protect physicians who prescribe it. The measure would require physicians and other health care professionals to get additional training about treating and diagnosing the illness and to establish a research fund.
To see the proposal, click here.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium transmitted through a tick bite. Symptoms include a skin rash, fever, headache and fatigue. If untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system.
The illness is common in the Lower Hudson Valley.
Carlucci said that insurers should be made to pay “their fair share,” adding that if private companies don’t pay for the antibiotic treatment, taxpayers will have to foot the bill.
Using antibiotics for months or even years is very controversial.
Most experts are convinced that early stage Lyme is successfully treated after several weeks of antibiotics. Others insist Lyme is a chronic infection requiring ongoing treatment, often including prolonged antibiotic treatment and other measures.
Dr. Daniel Cameron, a Mount Kisco internist, is firmly on the longer-term treatment side of the controversy. He spoke Friday with Carlucci in New City.
“Many people do recover after three weeks of antibiotics,” he said. “But others don’t.”
Physicians have become afraid to prescribe long term treatment because they think they will be sanctioned by the larger medical community, he said.
“We need to be able to have a healthy debate,” he said.
Dr. Gary Wormser, chief of the division of infectious diseases and vice chairman of the Department of Medicine at New York Medical College in Valhalla, is on the other side.
He has published research in peer-reviewed journals concluding that there is no evidence that the Lyme infection persists after a short course of antibiotic treatment.
Long term antibiotic treatment can be dangerous, he said.
“Multiple studies do not suggest a benefit of long-term antibiotic therapy, which also carries numerous potential risks, some of which are quite serious,” Wormser said.
He doesn’t think much of the proposed legislation.
“I think politicians should leave the delivery of medical care to health care professionals,” he said.