By Robert (Bob) Weiss, MS, LE Legislative Advocate
Lymphedema-related bills are winding their ways through the committee structures of a handful of states with little progress since my last report of a year ago (Lymph Link Vol. 19, No. 3, July-September 2007 pages 6, 27). Most of the bills in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts were re-introduced in the 2008 legislative sessions and sent to committee early in the year. The bill HB1011 Buckner for a pilot lymphedema program in Georgia and AB-213 Liu of California died in committee and were not re-introduced this year.
There was a public meeting on Connecticut HB 5691 Nardello on March 4, 2008. This bill for compression therapy supplies resides in the Joint Committee on Insurance and Real Estate. The Massachusetts comprehensive lymphedema treatment bill S.584 Fargo was referred to the Joint Committee on Financial Services for study, and was reported out and referred to the Senate Ethics and Rules Committee on April 24 while S.1327 Spilka was not so lucky, and never emerged from the Joint Committee on Public Health.
But it was in New York State that we found some forward action this year. All five bill-pairs from last session (comprehensive lymphedema diagnosis, treatment and patient protection; research grants; research and education fund; registry; reporting and investigation and patient informed consent) were re-introduced for the 2008 session, as was the diagnosis, treatment and compression sleeve bill A02823 Kolb. And as we go to press a 12th lymphedema bill for lymphedema treatment aids and devices was introduced in the Senate, S07950 LaValle.
We got a big boost on April 8 when the New York State Breast Cancer Network (NYSBCN) featured the comprehensive Health Insurance Coverage for Lymphedema bills A07077A Maisel and S01544 Fuschillo in their Tenth Annual New York State Advocacy Day. Each year this statewide network of community-based, survivor-driven breast cancer organizations conducts a day when volunteer advocates meet their legislators in Albany to educate them on important issues affecting the breast cancer community. I flew to Albany to brief advocates on the lymphedema treatment bills and to meet with some of the sponsors and key committee chairs on the cost-efficacy of lymphedema treatment.
Robert "Bob" Weiss, M.S.
NLN LE Legislative Advocate