Legislation Affecting Texas Lyme Disease Patients

Texas Legislation

In 2011, the Texas Legislature enacted HB2975/SB1360, an act relating to continuing education for physicians and nurses regarding the treatment of tick-borne diseases. Following patient and other testimony, which showed that tick-borne diseases are prevalent in Texas, that Texas patients find it extremely difficult to get diagnosed and treated for these diseases, and that patients often must seek medical help outside Texas, the Legislature reached compromise legislation between patient advocacy groups and the Texas Medical Association.

HB2975/SB1360 encourages physicians in Texas whose practice includes the treatment of tick-borne diseases to seek continuing education in this subject. It calls on the Texas Medical Board to adopt rules to establish the content of these courses and mandates that the board seek input from affected parties and review relevant courses, including courses that have been approved in other states. It mandates that these courses must represent an appropriate spectrum of relevant medical clinical treatment for tick-borne diseases.

The law also says that if relevant, the TMB shall consider a physician's participation in such courses if the physician is being investigated for his/her selection of clinical care for treatment of these diseases and the physician completed the courses no more than two years before the start of the investigation.

In accordance with the law, the Texas Medical Board made changes to its Rules, as follows: Rule 166.2 Continuing Medical Education (6)(A) A physician whose practice includes the treatment of tick-borne diseases should complete CME in the treatment of tick-borne diseases that meet the requirements described in paragraph (1)(A) - (E) of this subsection.

The requirements for these courses must meet one of the following conditions:

(A) designated for AMA/PRA Category 1 credit by a CME sponsor accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education or a state medical society recognized by the Committee for Review and Recognition of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education;
(B) approved for prescribed credit by the American Academy of Family Physicians;
(C) designated for AOA Category 1-A credit required for osteopathic physicians by an accredited CME sponsor approved by the American Osteopathic Association;
(D) approved by the Texas Medical Association based on standards established by the AMA for its Physician's Recognition Award; or
(E) approved by the board for medical ethics and/or professional responsibility courses only.

TXLDA has made it part of its mission to bring qualified CME courses on tick-borne diseases to Texas. Courses are being scheduled for the coming year. Please go to our Resources Page for information about available education for physicians.
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Congressional legislation

In every Congressional session for the past many years, Lyme patient advocacy groups have asked for legislation to improve the lives of Lyme patients. Most of this legislation has focused on the lack of research dollars devoted to the study of tick-borne diseases, the difficulty patients have in obtaining treatment for Lyme, and the rights of patients to choose treatments based on their doctors' recommendations. To date, these efforts have been blocked by members of the medical and insurance establishment who deny the existence and severity of chronic Lyme disease.

TXLDA will try to keep Texas patients informed of new legislation that may affect them so they can contact their Congressmen (or legislators) to voice an opinion on the pending legislation.

On August 30, 2012, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut held a field hearing in Stamford, CT, on a bill he has proposed, calling for a national assault on Lyme disease. The bill would provide resources to improve the diagnosis, reporting, and research of Lyme disease, including research into chronic Lyme. It calls for the development of more accurate and time-sensitive diagnostic tests for Lyme and would create a physician education program that includes the full spectrum of research on Lyme, not just the research used to formulate the guidelines of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, which are responsible for restricting the treatment most Lyme patients receive. It would create an advisory panel and would guarantee patients a seat at the table.

Patients may wish to contact their Senators and ask them to co-sponsor this bill.
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