To clear an obstacle inhibiting the treatment and health of chronic Lyme disease patients, State Sen. Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) sponsored legislation to provide protections for physicians to conduct prolonged antibiotic and experimental treatments for Lyme disease and related illnesses. Earning overwhelming support from the House and Senate, it was sent to the Governor on May 16.
“While many doctors believe that prolonged treatment of antibiotics can help alleviate the symptoms for chronic Lyme disease, the medical practice is considered to be experimental,” said Nybo. “Conducting experimental procedures at the request of the patient still puts doctors at risk of losing their medical license. By enacting House Bill 4515 we’re correcting a long-standing issue in the Illinois health care system and providing greater access to life-saving treatments for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tick-borne diseases more than doubled from 2004 to 2016, increasing from 22,000 to 48,000 confirmed cases.
“Constituents in the 24th District suffering from Lyme disease have contacted me about their struggles to get the care they need in Illinois,” said Nybo. “With our tight medical regulations, Illinois patients have looked to other states for help.”
House Bill 4515 is an initiative to prevent disciplinary action against Illinois medical providers that conduct experimental treatments, including prolonged antibiotic treatments, for cases of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. This allows the doctor and patient to choose the most effective and proper treatment for the patient’s case.
Many patients have sought out experimental and prolonged antibiotic treatments from one of the 10 states that have already enacted similar legislation and protections, which include California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
In sponsoring this legislation, Nybo spoke with local advocates from the district who personally suffer from Lyme disease and are hindered by the regulation issues House Bill 4515 aims to amend.
“There are so many people like me here in Illinois that suffer from a persistent Lyme infection that can’t get treatment; this Lyme bill will literally save so many lives—many of which are children,” said Tera Lester of Lombard. “With Lyme and other tick-borne diseases on the rise, it’s very important that we have access to affordable and adequate treatment options. I can’t thank people enough like Jennifer Russell for advocating for the bill for her daughter Lauryn and House Rep. Dan Swanson and Senator Chris Nybo for standing up for all of us with Lyme.”
“Thank you to Senator Nybo for his work on passing this legislation for Lyme disease,” said Amy Schiller Schamberger of Elmhurst. “This disease is devastating to those infected and their families, so this is a start to hopefully increase awareness and find more answers.”
House Bill 4515 would also require that the Department of Public Health create the Lyme Disease Prevention, Detection and Outreach Program to study the population of ticks carrying Lyme disease and the number of people infected in Illinois.
The legislation now awaits the Governor’s signature for enactment.