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Proposals to fight Lyme Disease unveiled

Delaware had sixth-highest rate in country in 2013
Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth, addresses the seriousness of Lyme Disease during a press conference Dec. 10. Picture (l-r) are Delaware Tourism Director Linda Parkowski, Lyme Disease Prevention Task Force member Sandy Reyes, Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, Schwarztkopf, House Minority Leader Rep. Daniel Short, R-Seaford, and Sen. Bruce Ennis, D-Smyrna. COURTESY DREW VOLTURO
January 1, 2016

Acknowledging Lyme Disease is a serious issue in Delaware, Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, and Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, unveiled a series of proposals aimed at curbing the spread of the disease during a Dec. 10 press conference in Dover.

“Lyme disease is an epidemic in Delaware,” said Lopez in a prepared statement. “With new research showing the long-term problems it can cause, I’m pleased to be working in a collaborative manner to increase awareness and help eradicate this terrible disease.”

A 2013 study showed Delaware had the sixth-highest incidence of Lyme disease in the United States.

A bipartisan group of legislators, advocates and community members joined Lopez and Schwartzkopf during the unveiling of the proposals, which are intended to prevent the spread of the disease, raise awareness and improve treatment and coverage.

Specifically, the proposals include Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna and United Health Care leading a working group to find ways to improve healthcare coverage for patients; University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Delaware Technical Community College collaborating in an effort to have their students and faculty research ticks and Lyme disease in Delaware; the drafting of a bill that would establish a healthcare professional education oversight board; and the drafting of another bill that would expand the governing statute for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources to include the authority to address ticks.

The two Cape Region legislators sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 10 last year, creating the Lyme Disease Prevention Task Force, which was designed to find a unified strategy to combat Lyme Disease in Delaware.

“During our meetings, we learned how Lyme Disease is not a simple illness that causes mild discomfort. It is a serious disease that carries serious health risks and problems for those who have it,” said Schwartzkopf.