By Robert (Bob) Weiss, MS, LE Legislative Advocate
Status as of May 25, 2009
New York State
Two lymphedema bills are currently active in New York State-A05320 Maisel/S00629 Fuschillo. The content of these bills was described in the last issue of LymphLink. The Assembly bill A05320 passed the Assembly on May 11 and was sent to the Senate Health Committee, where its Senate twin S00629 resides. The bill sent through two readings on May 19 and 20. There are nine other LE bills in various committees, including the important LE comprehensive diagnosis and treatment bill-pair A05324 Maisel/S04775 Fuschillo-none of which appear to be headed out of committee to be voted on this session. NY bill A05320 Maisel was unanimously approved by the Assembly on May 13 and goes on to the Senate.
The new bright spot in the lymphedema legislative world is the Health Insurance Coverage/Lymphedema House Bill 535 introduced in the North Carolina House by Assemblywoman Trish Cotham. This bill with four Primary Sponsors and 27 Co-Sponsors passed favorably the Committees on Health and Insurance and was passed by the full House on May 14 by a vote of 107 to 9. This bill is an example of how an individual can make a difference. Heather Furgeson, mother of a three-year old with lymphedema, has been conducting a one-woman campaign with Assemblywoman Cotham to get this bill passed. The bill was sent to the Senate Commerce Committee on May 19.
There is one lymphedema bill active in Massachusetts that is a combination of the two bills which were active in the 2004-2008 sessions.
State Senator Karen Spilka has reintroduced her WHCRA conformance bill that adds the coverage of lymphedema as a sequela of mastectomy and breast reconstruction. The bill, called the "Women's Health and Cancer Recovery Act," adds coverage for treatment of LE from all causes, specifically "coverage which includes benefits for equipment, supplies, complex decongestive therapy, and outpatient self-management training and education for the treatment of lymphedema, if prescribed by a health care professional legally authorized to prescribe or provide such items under law."
Senator Susan Fargo, who has had comprehensive lymphedema diagnosis, treatment and patient protection bills in the Massachusetts Senate since 2004 has not re-introduced her bill this session, possibly because of her new position as Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health.
Robert "Bob" Weiss, M.S.
NLN LE Legislative Advocate