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3/17/2021 Rep. Vella-Wilkinson bill would provide insurance coverage for Lyme disease, uterine fibroid treatments
STATE HOUSE — The House Committee on Corporations heard testimony this week on legislation introduced by Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) that would provide health care coverage for treatments for Lyme disease and uterine fibroids.

The first bill (2021-H 5897) would require insurers to provide coverage for any prescription drug treatment for Lyme disease.

“Because the CDC states that Lyme disease can be treated with 30 days of antibiotics, the majority of insurance companies do not recognize chronic Lyme disease as a legitimate illness and will not pay for long-term treatment,” Representative Vella-Wilkinson told the committee. “It is clear that we need effective, cost-effective and compassionate management of these patients to improve their outcomes even if we don’t know what to call the disease.”

When diagnosed early on, Lyme disease can usually be treated with a short course of antibiotics. In other cases, the disease can leave lingering symptoms, including fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and/or cognitive impairments.

“Lyme disease imposes an economic burden that could be considered significant in the U.S. and other developed countries to justify further research efforts in disease control and management,” said Representative Vella-Wilkinson. “Patients with early Lyme disease incurred $3,798 total direct medical costs associated with it. With late or chronic Lyme disease, the total annual cost per person is about $25,000.”

The second bill (2021-H 5898) provides health care coverage for laparoscopic removal of uterine fibroids, including intraoperative ultrasound guidance and monitoring and radiofrequency ablation.

Uterine fibroids are a noncancerous growth that appear in the uterus usually during childbearing years, Treatment options include hysterectomy, embolization (radiation) and hormone therapy. 

“In Rhode Island, a hysterectomy costs $5,000 to $13,700 and is covered by insurance,” said Representative Vella-Wilkinson.  “But a hysterectomy is extremely invasive, painful and although generally released after two to three days, full recovery is typically six to eight weeks. At least 39 states, including Massachusetts, cover a less invasive and less expensive procedure, laparoscopic hysterectomy, to remove fibroids. I would like to see Rhode Island women covered for this as well.”

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903