Sappey votes to require insurers to cover treatment for Lyme disease

HARRISBURG, April 11 – H.B. 629, which would require insurers in Pennsylvania to cover treatment for Lyme disease, overwhelmingly passed the House on Tuesday and will be considered in the Senate this month, according to state Rep. Chris Sappey, who voted for the bill.

Under H.B. 629, insurers would be obligated to cover treatment for Lyme disease including short-term and long-term antibiotics. Treatment for other tick-borne illnesses and infections are also covered under this legislation.

Pennsylvania ranks No. 1 in the country for Lyme disease diagnoses. In 2016, there were 12,200 confirmed cases, which translated to roughly 40 percent of all Lyme disease diagnoses nationwide. According to the CDC, the majority of these diagnoses come from Chester County. In 2016, Chester County had the most confirmed cases out of all Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, with 371 diagnoses and a total of 10,682 confirmed cases since 2000.

“Since this disease runs rampantly throughout Pennsylvania, it makes sense to rely heavily on health insurance to help you pay for treatment because it can get costly,” said Sappey, D-Chester. “Everyone should be eligible for medical treatment when they’re sick, especially for Lyme disease because of its severity in our district.”

Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick, which can cause a bacterial infection in humans and pets. Chester County is particularly vulnerable to Lyme disease because it covers both rural and suburban areas, which makes it an ideal habitat for deer ticks that carry the illness. Common symptoms of Lyme disease are fever, skin rash, fatigue and headaches, but if left untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart and central nervous system, according to the CDC.