Congressman Gibson Re-Introduces Bipartisan Lyme Disease Legislation with Colleagues
Legislation Marks Continuation of Efforts to Address Tick-borne Illnesses
February 13, 2013 -
Congressman Chris Gibson (NY-19) announced today that he has joined with a bipartisan group of his colleagues to introduce H.R. 610, which would establish a federal Tick-Borne Diseases Advisory Committee. Congressman Gibson introduced the legislation with the bill’s main sponsor, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) as well as the senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee Colin Peterson (D-MN) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA).
Under the legislation, the Advisory Committee would be tasked with enhancing communication among federal agencies, medical professionals, and patients/patient advocates and to ensure that a broad spectrum of scientific viewpoints is represented in public health policy decisions. The bill also requires that the information disseminated to the public and physicians is balanced. There has been great concern over the last several years that meritorious analyses and opinions regarding “chronic” Lyme have been withheld from doctors, patients and insurers.
“I have heard firsthand from family, friends, and constituents about the impact Lyme disease has had on their lives and their loved ones. Particularly in Upstate New York, where the incidence of Lyme is among the highest in the country, it is imperative that we improve the ways we detect and care for individuals suffering from tick borne illnesses. I am pleased to join with a bipartisan group of my colleagues to once again introduce legislation to establish a federal Tick-Borne Diseases Advisory Committee, which would be an important step forward in that effort,” said Congressman Gibson.
Lyme is the most prevalent vector-borne disease in the U.S. today. If not diagnosed and treated early, Lyme disease can lead to disseminated infection and can affect every system in the body, including the central nervous system. Later symptoms of Lyme disease include arthritis of weight-bearing joints; neurological problems, such as facial paralysis, encephalopathy, memory problems, weakness of the extremities; and heart symptoms, such as heart block and inflammation of the heart muscle.
In May 2012, Congressman Gibson was the honorary chair of the LymeNext Forum at Skidmore College, attended by over 500 individuals. He also worked to have language included in the House Agriculture Appropriations Bill on Lyme and has supported federal funding for research and advocacy.
“Moving forward, we need to continue to work on better testing so individuals with Lyme are diagnosed early. This may require changing the Centers for Disease Control guidelines to ensure better treatment and insurance coverage. I also am looking at ways to use my position on the House Agriculture Committee to bring a spotlight on this issue. Ultimately, better awareness, diagnosis, and treatment will assist my constituents in New York and Americans across the country who suffer from tick-borne illnesses,” said Congressman Gibson.