MACOMB — Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed into a law a bill that will require insurance coverage for treatment of Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
Rep. Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, was a chief co-sponsor of the bill introduced by Rep. Dan Swanson, R-Alpha.
“Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases can be detrimental to your health, if left untreated,” said Rep. Hammond. “The more time you spend outside, the more likely you are to develop Lyme disease, particularly in our state. This legislation will help those dealing with Lyme disease get the medical care they need to recover.”
House Bill 889 was inspired by Lauryn Russell, a student at Mercer County Junior High School. Russell was forced to seek out-of-state treatment for her post-treatment of Lyme Disease due to current state regulations. Most insurers within the state use the standard 10 to 21 days of antibiotics as a standard for treatment, but Lyme Disease sufferers and their advocates state that amount is simply insufficient for people with a more advanced or persistent level of the disease.
The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, mandates that insurance companies must cover experimental drugs prescribed by Lyme treatment, as well as cover long-term antibiotic therapy and related medical care for those with a tick-borne disease.

Background on Lyme Disease

There was at one time a vaccine against Lyme Disease; however the manufacturer stopped making it in 2002 due to “insufficient consumer demand,” according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the CDC, commons symptoms of Lyme Disease include rashes, fever, chills, fatigue and headache. Late-stage Lyme can lead to arthritis, numbness in hands and legs, as well as short-term memory loss. Oral and intravenous antibiotics are typically used for Lyme treatment of the infection caused by four species of the Borrelia family of bacteria.
Through 2017, Illinois was still considered by the CDC as a “low incidence” area for Lyme Disease with 218 confirmed cases and 55 probable cases.
To avoid contact with ticks, avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails if entering wooded areas. After coming indoors, it is recommended checking clothing for ticks, examining gear and pets; and showering within two hours of having been in wooded or brush-laden areas. CDC recommends using the shower as an opportunity to check for ticks; however a hand-held or full-length dressing mirror may be advised. It is recommended individuals check under arms, in and around ears, inside the navel (belly button), back of the knees, in and around the hair, around the waistline and between the legs, as ticks tend to travel to areas with greatest level of body heat.
More information on disease statistics and ways to prevent contracting the disease can be found online at the CDC website: https://bit.ly/2z7TiQn.

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