On July 18, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) joined Lyme disease advocates and researchers in New Haven to announce introduction of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act – a bill to combat the growing epidemic of Lyme disease in New England and across the country.
Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) are original cosponsors of the legislation. Former Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, the original author of the legislation, championed the issue during his tenure in the Senate.
The bill would:
Establish a Tick-Borne Disease Advisory Committee: The legislation would establish the Advisory Committee through the Secretary of Health and Human Services in order to streamline coordination between other federal agencies and private organizations addressing tick-borne illnesses. The Advisory Committee would be comprised of “stakeholder constituencies,” which would include doctors and researchers.
Coordinate Increased Research and Development Around Lyme Disease: The legislation directs the Secretary of HHS, in coordination with the Advisory Committee, to develop more accurate and time-sensitive diagnostic tools to strengthen surveillance and reporting of Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses, which would help determine prevalence of various illnesses.
Increase Education: The legislation would increase public education through the Community Based Education Programs at the Centers for Disease Control and create a physician-education program that includes the full spectrum of scientific research related to Lyme and other tick-borne disease.
Report on Lyme Disease: The legislation requires the Secretary of HHS to publish a report at the end of each advisory term evaluating published guidelines and current research available on Lyme disease, in order to best educate health professionals on the latest research and diversity of treatment options. It further requires the Secretary of HHS to submit to Congress a report on the activities carried out under this act including a copy of the most recent annual report issued by the Tick-Borne Diseases Advisory Committee.
Source: Richard Blumenthal, news release Jul 18, 2011