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RHODE ISLAND LEADS COUNTRY IN FREEDOM & LIBERTY
ALLOWING PATIENTS TO CHOOSE DOCTORS &
TO CHOOSE THEIR MEDICAL TREATMENTS

Chapter 113; 2003 -- H 6136 SUBSTITUTE A AS AMENDED; Enacted 07/07/03

AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY
-- LYME DISEASE DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT

Introduced By: Representatives Gallison, Anguilla, Enos, Lewiss, and Amaral

Date Introduced: February 27, 2003

It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:

SECTION 1. Section 5-37.5-2 of the General Laws in Chapter 5-37.5 entitled "Lyme Disease Diagnosis and Treatment" is hereby amended to read as follows: 5-37.5-2. Preamble. -- WHEREAS, The Governor's Commission on Lyme Disease and Other Tick-Borne Diseases (the "Commission") was formed by executive order in 2002; and

WHEREAS, The General Assembly recognizes the negative impact of Lyme disease on Rhode Islanders; and

WHEREAS, Rhode Island has the second highest number of reported Lyme disease

WHEREAS, The Commission and the General Assembly held hearings and reviewed the medical literature to gain an understanding of the concerns of citizens and the medical community about Lyme disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention; and

WHEREAS, Citizens of Rhode Island diagnosed with chronic lyme disease experience great difficulty in being diagnosed and treated thereby impairing their access to medical care; and

WHEREAS, The lack of insurance coverage for diagnosis and long-term antibiotic therapies is a major barrier to access to medical care for persons with symptoms compatible with chronic Lyme disease; and

WHEREAS, Physicians whose practices are devoted to treating chronic Lyme disease patients, and who continue to provide treatment if they feel such treatment is medically necessary, have noted significant improvement in the condition of their patients; and

WHEREAS, There is substantial evidence that considerable scientific controversy surrounds the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses; and

WHEREAS, Laboratory tests for Lyme disease are not definitive and consensus guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of chronic Lyme disease have not been developed; and

WHEREAS, Some physicians feel threatened by insurers and licensing boards for their choices among possible therapies for their patients; and

WHEREAS, The Commission and this General Assembly recommend that legislation be adopted that promotes access to medical care for persons with chronic Lyme disease in Rhode Island; and

Now, therefore, it is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:

SECTION 2. Chapter 5-37.5 of the General Laws entitled "Lyme Disease Diagnosis and Treatment" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

5-37.5-5. Mandatory coverage for certain lyme disease treatments. Every individual or group hospital or medical expense insurance policy or individual or group hospital or medical services plan contract delivered, issued for delivery, or renewed in this state on or after January 1, 2004, shall provide for lyme disease treatment as provided in chapters 27-18, 27-19, 27-20, and 27-41 of the general laws.

SECTION 3. Chapter 27-18 of the General Laws entitled "Accident and Sickness Insurance Policies" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

27-18-62. Mandatory coverage for certain lyme disease treatments. (a) Every individual or group hospital or medical expense insurance policy or individual or group hospital or medical services plan contract delivered, issued for delivery, or renewed in this state on or after January 1, 2004 shall provide coverage for diagnostic testing and long-term antibiotic treatment of chronic lyme disease when determined to be medically necessary and ordered by a physician acting in accordance with chapter 5-37.5 of the Rhode Island General Laws entitled "lyme disease diagnosis and treatment" after making a thorough evaluation of the patient's symptoms, diagnostic test results and response to treatment. Treatment otherwise eligible for benefits pursuant to this section shall not be denied solely because such treatment may be characterized as unproven, experimental, or investigational in nature. Provided, however, this section shall not apply to insurance coverage providing benefits for:

  1. hospital confinement indemnity;
  2. disability income;
  3. accident only;
  4. long-term care;
  5. Medicare supplement;
  6. limited benefit health;
  7. specified disease indemnity;
  8. sickness or bodily injury or death by accident or both; and
  9. other limited benefit policies.

SECTION 4. Chapter 27-19 of the General Laws entitled "Nonprofit Hospital Service Corporations" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

27-19-53. Mandatory coverage for certain lyme disease treatments. (a) Every individual or group hospital or medical expense insurance policy or individual or group hospital or medical services plan contract delivered, issued for delivery, or renewed in this state on or after January 1, 2004 shall provide coverage for diagnostic testing and long term antibiotic treatment of chronic lyme disease when determined to be medically necessary and ordered by a physician acting in accordance with chapter 5-37.5 of the Rhode Island General Laws entitled "lyme disease diagnosis and treatment" after making a thorough evaluation of the patient's symptoms, diagnostic test results and response to treatment. Treatment otherwise eligible for benefits pursuant to this section shall not be denied solely because such treatment may be characterized as unproven, experimental, or investigational in nature.

SECTION 5. Chapter 27-20 of the General Laws entitled "Nonprofit Medical Service Corporations" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

27-20-48. Mandatory coverage for certain lyme disease treatments. -- (a) Every individual or group hospital or medical expense insurance policy or individual or group hospital or medical services plan contract delivered, issued for delivery, or renewed in this state on or after January 1, 2004 shall provide coverage for diagnostic testing and long-term antibiotic treatment of chronic lyme disease when determined to be medically necessary and ordered by a physician acting in accordance with chapter 5-37.5 of the Rhode Island General Laws entitled "lyme disease diagnosis and treatment" after making a thorough evaluation of the patient's symptoms, diagnostic test results and response to treatment. Treatment otherwise eligible for benefits pursuant to this section shall not be denied solely because such treatment may be characterized as unproven, experimental, or investigational in nature.

SECTION 6. Chapter 27-41 of the General Laws entitled "Health Maintenance Organizations" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

27-41-65. Mandatory coverage for certain lyme disease treatments. Subscribers to any health maintenance organization plan shall be afforded coverage under that plan on or after January 1, 2004 for diagnostic testing and long term antibiotic treatment of chronic lyme disease when determined to be medically necessary and ordered by a physician acting in accordance with chapter 5-37.5 of the Rhode Island General Laws entitled "lyme disease diagnosis and treatment" after making a thorough evaluation of the patient's symptoms, diagnostic test results and response to treatment. Treatment otherwise eligible for benefits pursuant to this section shall not be denied solely because such treatment may be characterized as unproven, experimental, or investigational in nature.

SECTION 7. This act shall take effect upon passage and shall expire on December 31, 2004.



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