Breakthrough Lyme Disease research bill clears house
New Jersey's Lyme disease abundant climate has given way to an unprecedented bill that seeks to formally identify and address the medical affliction.
The bill, which passed unanimously through the House in a voice-vote this week, would be the first federal law of its kind. It is now in the hands of the Senate.
The legislation, crafted by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, will confront what Smith referred to as "gaps in health treatment," that exist in a medical climate where Lyme is not always acknowledged in a uniform way. According to a Sept. 9 press release from the congressman's office, the bill will create an inter-agency working group on Lyme disease and strategically guide existing federal research and treatment programs.
Smith's work on the bill stems from decades of involvement with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases at the National Center for Infectious Diseases. Smith is also the co-founder and co-chair of the House Lyme Disease Caucus.
The working group formed under Smith's bill will be required to comply to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, promoting transparency related to its conduct. The openness will provide new opportunities for expanded input in the group's public health policy decisions by allowing Lyme patients, doctors, researchers and grassroots organizations to contribute their input.
"It is a great step forward for chronic Lyme patients, especially those who have suffered for decades with this debilitating disease- only to be told that their illness doesn't exist," said Smith in his press release.