Advocates push to pass Maryland bill that helps those suffering from Lyme disease

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WMAR) -

There’s a battle going on down in Annapolis and it’s over Lyme disease.

The Maryland Senate Finance Committee heard from both supporters and those opposed to a bill guaranteeing insurance coverage for chronic Lyme disease.

Olivia Goodreau and her mother, Holliday, don’t live in Maryland.

They took the three-hour flight from Denver to be in Annapolis in support of a bill they say could save lives.

“I, myself, have Lyme disease and I also have five co-infections from one tiny tick that I did not see,” Olivia said.

That tiny tick sent Olivia, and her family, on a journey to find answers, not only to properly diagnose the disease that at its worst could create nerve pain, irregular heartbeats, and short-term memory loss – but to learn the disease affects thousands of people including Marylanders.

Maryland ranks sixth in the country of reported cases of Lyme disease according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“For Olivia, it took us 18 months and 51 doctors for her to be properly diagnosed. She was misdiagnosed four times, including once with Wilson’s disease We were told that she would not live past age 30,” Holliday said.

Grim misdiagnoses Susan Green says also happened to her.

The attorney, and advocate, invited the Goodreaus to Annapolis to help to push to pass Senate Bill 793 – a piece of legislation calling for insurance companies to cover symptoms of chronic Lyme disease.

“If you get a negative test, your insurance company is not going to allow you to get antibiotics, even though you present the signs of Lyme disease,” Green said.

Those pushing for the bill cite a note in a Johns Hopkins study finding 60% of doctors misdiagnose the symptoms from Lyme disease.

Green says people who may have it, may not know for some time.

After about a month, insurance coverages stop for the appropriate medications to deal with symptoms forcing patients to come out of pocket if they’re still feeling symptoms.

Green says that shouldn’t be the case.

“Quit playing doctors because you’re worried about profits and your elevating profits over patient care. Let the doctors do their jobs,” she said.

Opponents say because of the common misdiagnosis, it’d be dangerous to give out medication without more testing.

“Because we want to make sure that you’re being treated appropriately, we want to do reviews at each period. Because you may have another illness that they’re just calling Lyme Disease and it may not be Lyme disease,” Deb Rivkin, the VP of Governmental Affairs CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, said.

Olivia says waiting could do more harm than good.

So she started an app, ‘Tick Tracker,’ that warns and alerts you if you’re in a higher concentrated area of ticks.

“Tick Tracker helps keep you safe and it helps keep you aware of what’s in your backyard,” Olivia said.

A step to make more people aware of the disease that can debilitate those infected.

It took Olivia almost a year to create the ‘Tick Tracker’ app. If you want to download it, click here.

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