EMPIRE STATE LYME DISEASE ASSOCIATION

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OPMC Reform

Signed by Gov. Paterson 2008

 

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Lyme tests are not accurate-2005 John Hopkins study

 

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**US Senator Chuck Schumer, NY, on the
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Lyme Disease Association
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NY Lyme Activism - Part 2

More about events leading up to the 2008 "Patient Safety Law," which included the OPMC Reforms that from 2001 to 2008, NYS Lyme patient activists went to Albany to ask legislators to pass.

HISTORY: 

In the past, we focused on the following issues, taken from our talking points of 2007:

Doctors who don't follow the cookbook approach regarding diagnosis and treatment as dictated by the IDSA (Infectious Diseases Society of America) are considered to be Lyme knowledgeable, Lyme friendly, Lyme educated or Lyme literate.  These doctors recognize the fact that much more research and proof via actual case studies are necessary before the determination, if ever, of any one specific treatment.  Lyme physicians look to treat Lyme patients until the patient is well, and if necessary, they include aggressive and long term treatment, as per ILADS Guidelines. (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society)  

The heretofore unchecked power of the IDSA * the situation for ILADS doctors is that insurance companies and state disciplinary boards have unfairly taken sides.  The OPMC has investigated and in some cases, charged LLMDS with medical misconduct. These actions could result in the loss of LLMDs licenses, simply for treating chronic Lyme disease.  The chilling effect of this harassment on Lyme literate doctors has made it extremely difficult for Lyme disease patients to find medical care. With the handing down of the recent 2006 Guidelines by the IDSA, the situation has worsened. *  We need OPMC REFORM legislation to deter harassment of physicians treating chronic Lyme disease.  Providing due process for our NY doctors will help all patients, no matter where the Connecticut CID investigation leads.

*Nov 2006 - Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal is calling for an investigation of the IDSA for their Guidelines on the Treatment of Lyme disease.  Attorney General Richard Blumenthal subpoenaed the IDSA, launching a CID investigation into what Blumenthal said could "severely reduce choice for patients and physicians in diagnosis and treatment thereby violating the anti-trust laws that protect consumers."

December 2004 NYS Senate finally passed the OPMC Reform bill in 2004. (NYS Assembly had passed the OPMC Reform Bill every year)  However, despite significant pressure to sign the bill, Governor Pataki vetoed it.

But - A memorandum was issued June 15, 2005 by OPMC Director Dennis Graziano -

 

To every staff member of the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC), all the members of the Board for Professional Medical Conduct and its chief counsel:
 
"Subject:  Investigation of Practitioners Utilizing Treatment Modalities That Are Not Universally Accepted by the Medical Profession.

"This memorandum is intended to memorialize and endorse the principles that are currently in place in the Office of Professional Medical Conduct regarding the investigation of physicians, physician assistants and specialist assistants who use treatment modalities that are not universally accepted by the medical profession, such as the varying modalities used in the treatment of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.

"As you know, Article 131 of the Education Law defines the practice of medicine.  Paragraph (e) of subdivision four of §6527 of the Education Law provides that Article 131 'shall not be construed to affect or prevent...[a] physician's use of whatever medical care, conventional or non-conventional, which effectively treats human disease, pain, injury, deformity or physical condition.'  Under current law, therefore, it is clear that so long as a treatment modality effectively treats human disease, pain, injury, deformity or physical condition, the recommendation or provision of that modality does not, by itself, constitute professional  misconduct. Consequently, it is contrary to the policy and practice of the Office of Professional Medical Conduct to identify, investigate or charge a physician, physician’s assistant or specialist assistant based solely on that practitioner’s recommendation or provision of such treatment modality.

“Please note that this prohibition does not exonerate such practitioners from otherwise applicable professional requirements.”
 
Governor Pataki responded to the thousands of communications he received from Lyme patients seeking protection for their medical care.  He was instrumental in the work leading to the issuance of this memo, as were our ILADS physicians who freely provided their time and expertise in this process.

A special thanks is owed to Richard Gottfried, Chair, Assembly Health Committee, who called the Assembly hearings on Lyme disease and who authored the OPMC reform bill.

A New York doctor who was affected by OPMC charges, wrote, “This memorandum means that the pressure is now off of Lyme-treating physicians in New York.

6/9/2003 Assembly bill A.4274a is passed.

5/23/2003 Senate companion bill S.5221 to Assembly bill is introduced by James Seward.

 

5/29/02 Health Committee chairman, Senator Kemp Hannon's neglect on the issue of OPMC misbehavior over Lyme disease, spurs Lyme patients to protest outside his office.

 

5/24/02 OPMC Reform Bill is introduced in the NY Senate as S.7466 by Senator William Larkin.

 

514/02 Assembly OPMC Reform bill A.11330 passes Health Committee Vote.

 

4/22/02 NYS Assembly Resolution passes by unanimous floor vote - with over 103 sponsors from both sides of the isle -- a remarkable bipartisan feat.  

New York Assembly Resolution 2155     2002 Legislative Session

 

WHEREAS, Considerable scientific controversy surrounds the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses; and

WHEREAS, New York State has the highest number of reportable Lyme disease cases in the United States ; and

WHEREAS, Insurance companies can and do file complaints with the New York State office of Professional medical Conduct against doctors who treat chronic Lyme disease, and have thus injected themselves into the debate; and

WHEREAS, Doctors 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, a high percentage of doctors who treat chronic Lyme disease patients, and who continue to treat patients if they feel such treatment is medically necessary, have

been investigated by the OPMC pertaining to their treatment of Lyme disease; and

WHEREAS, Tests for Lyme Disease are highly inaccurate and often are negative even when a person has Lyme disease; and

WHEREAS, The federal Center for Disease Control has not developed treatment guidelines for Lyme disease; and

WHEREAS, Patients in whom the disease is not caught early and who are not treated adequately can progress to chronic disease with infection of the central nervous system; and

WHEREAS, Hundreds of Lyme disease patients have contacted legislators, expressing their concern that the intrusion of the Office of Professional Medical Conduct into their personal physician's treatment protocol is having a chilling effect on their doctor's ability to provide successful treatment for them; now therefor, be it

RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause in its deliberations to request that insurance companies and the Office of Professional Medical Conduct cease and desist from targeting physicians who fall on one side or the other of this controversy, until such time as medical research and the medical community have determined the appropriate parameters for the diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne illnesses; and be it further

RESOLVED, That a copy of the Resolution, suitably engrossed, be transmitted to the Office of Professional Medical Conduct.

 

PASSED UNANIMOUS FLOOR VOTE BY THE ASSEMBLY ON APRIL 22, 2002

 

 

4/22/02 Dr. Burrascano received a decision by the Administrative Review Board. The ARB affirms that the OPMC was prosecuting a bias in a medical science dispute and not misconduct. (Decision available on the OPMC website) Please note: Unlike other cases, they were allowed to present medical literature into evidence that justified his method. This evidence very much influenced the panel, which pointed to the need that in addition to other measures, one way we had to reform the OPMC process law was to include that medical literature evidence is allowed in all OPMC hearings.