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Bill pushed by Lyme patients vetoed


briarrose
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I read an article that boiled my blood this morning. As you are all aware that Dysautonomia/POTS can be caused by caused by a number of factors, i.e. virus, pregnancy, trauma, chemical exposure. Even though it hasn't been directly linked yet, I'm guessing when I say that untreated Lyme disease someday will also prove to be a factor.

There is also a dispute about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and how it overlaps POTS. Some say that 1/3 to 1/2 of CFID's patients are probably really Dysautonomia patients with POTS not the other way around.

So it made me very angry this morning to read that ONE Person could block such an effort for treatment an intimidation of doctor's who are willing to help.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Bill pushed by Lyme patients vetoed

Easing pressure on doctors was proposal's aim

By Dan Shapley

Poughkeepsie Journal

Gov. George Pataki this week vetoed a bill championed by Lyme disease patients that aimed to reform the Department of Health's Office of Professional Medical Conduct.

Patient advocates supported the bill because it would have expanded the due process rights of doctors being investigated for misconduct.

They believe the state's disciplinary process has been used to intimidate doctors who aggressively treat Lyme disease patients, particularly those with stubborn infections that don't yield to traditional treatments.

Pataki vetoed the bill, citing the opposition of numerous groups, mostly physician and lawyer associations, including the Medical Society of the State of New York.

''In the last decade, New York State's record in addressing the issue of professional medical misconduct has dramatically improved, and I am not willing to compromise that success by approving a series of procedural and substantive changes that could make the disciplinary process more cumbersome and complex,'' Pataki wrote in his veto message.

Some doctors and patients believe long and expensive courses of antibiotics, a treatment often disputed by insurers, is the only effective way to treat some stubborn cases of the tick-borne disease.

Allegations of mistreatment have been brought up against several doctors who treat Lyme disease this way, which patient advocates believe could intimidate other doctors from prescribing these remedies.

Treatment difficulties

''It's honestly becoming more and more difficult as time goes by to treat patients who have chronic Lyme disease, especially when it comes to children,'' said Jill Auerbach, a patient advocate from Poughkeepsie who has had Lyme disease several times.

''The insurance companies are being more and more difficult about it, so doctors are less and less inclined to treat patients,'' Auerbach said.

Dutchess County was second only to Columbia County for incidence of Lyme disease in the country in 2002, the last year for which national data is available. More than 1,000 cases have been reported each year in Dutchess County since 1996.

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium carried by black-legged ticks, a tiny, blood-sucking woodland arachnid.

The disease can cause joint pain, fever and fatigue, leading to more serious complications if not treated properly.

Joel Miller, R-Poughkeepsie, co-sponsored the bill in the Assembly, and Steve Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, co-sponsored it in the Senate.

Both said Friday they were surprised by the veto, because the governor's office had negotiated changes to the bill, and indicated Pataki now approved of it.

''I was led to believe as recently as a week ago that, yes, the governor said there were problems but that they were going to be remedied,'' Saland said.

''Certainly, the problem is not going to go away, and we have to fashion a remedy,'' he said.

Miller, who pioneered the effort to reform the office, said the law would have brought New York into line with other states in the Northeast.

He called the Office of Professional Medical Conduct a ''one-sided'' organization that leaves doctors too little power to defend themselves.

''They harass, intimidate and discourage the physicians who would provide treatment for those patients,'' Miller said.

Dan Shapley can be reached at dshapley@poughkeepsiejournal.com

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