Our Role & Impact

Legislative Activities

Founded in and serving the Washington, DC area since 2001, NatCapLyme educates government officials and healthcare industry leaders about Lyme and tick-borne diseases on behalf of individuals and families of those afflicted with such diseases. We actively engage with all sides of the Lyme and tick-borne disease issue to encourage measurable progress. NatCapLyme is an all-volunteer organization, but we have an appointed legal and legislative counsel, as well as individual board members, who bring political and legal experience to the table. Our legislative activities are ongoing, always focused on improving the lives of tick-borne disease sufferers.


We’re fighting on many fronts. We invite you to see what we’re doing on a state and federal level:

Report on the Virginia House of Delegates Committee Hearing

[February 1, 2010]  A standing room only crowd was on hand Monday evening for the House of Delegates committee hearing on H.B. 512.  Although, the bill was not forwarded to the full committee for action, neither was it was defeated.  It was rolled over to the 2011 session of the House of Delegates.

In addition, the bill was referred to the Virginia Department of Health (“VDH”), the parent organization of the Board of Medicine, for additional study and to try to resolve the issues without legislation.  A brief meeting with representatives of the VDH, who were in attendance, confirmed that they will meet with us and take our cause, and our needs, seriously.  If there is no progress by the next session, the bill is still alive and can be acted upon at that time.

Delegate Rust introduced the bill and offered a good description of the Lyme disease problem in the U.S. as well as in Virginia.  He cited Governor McDonnell, “As Governor I look forward to working with you and others to improve reporting and education efforts, as well as examine ways to provide our physicians the ability to meet the treatment needs of their patients without undue liability threats.”   We had six witnesses ready to testify in support of the bill beginning with Dr. Sam Shor, who delivered a well documented statement about the need for physician protection because of Board of Medicine intimidation in other states and the fear of such intimidation in Virginia.

As soon as Dr. Shor completed his statement, it became clear that several members of the subcommittee had been prepped by the medical society with questions.  The committee took at least another 15 minutes with very tough questions that appeared to come directly from the bill’s detractors, including the medical society and the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA).  Dr. Shor, put up a good defense of the bill and its purposes, but it became clear that the subcommittee members were not prepared to move the bill forward in this session.  After Dr. Shor, there was only a small amount of time for the rest of the witnesses to speak.  Much of the questioning related to why Lyme disease should be addressed by legislation when Virginia has an expert agency charged with the responsibility to consider these matters.

The respondents included Dr. Donald Poretz, the former president of the IDSA and a local pediatric rheumatologist.  They warned that the use of long-term antibiotics have dangerous side-effects and create  antibiotic resistant “super bugs.”  Unfortunately, there was no opportunity for rebuttal.

While many of the members were skeptical, they all recognized the problem presented by the exponential growth of Lyme disease in Virginia.  In response to opposing testimony from doctors, Delegate Spurill, of the cities of Chesapeake and Suffolk, became passionate for the Lyme patients in the room. In response to the motion to hold the bill over to 2011, Spruill said,” Is this all that we are we going to offer these people who have come here tonight?”

In the end, we did achieve a good result. It is extremely difficult to get a bill like H.B. 512 passed the first time out.  It took several legislative sessions in Connecticut to get that bill passed.  The New Hampshire effort this year met similar opposition and also was referred to the medical expert agency.  Further, in a highly specialized area of expertise, such as medicine, it is customary to refer to the expert agency first, before turning to legislation.

Here are the main points:

  • The bill was not killed, it is not dead; it is tabled.
  • The bill was referred to the Virginia Department of Health, the parent organization of the Board of Medicine, for study and evaluation.  Implicit in this referral is the need to report back to the committee.  Lyme advocates can make sure that happens by continuing to impress their delegates and senators of the need for accountability and a report.
  • The Virginia Department of Health representatives will meet with us which opens the dialogue we have been striving for.
  • While this bill is alive, the Board of Medicine is not likely to bring charges against any Virginia physician solely for the use of long-term antibiotics, which was the precise purpose of HB 512.  If they do, they will be demonstrating the need for the legislature to take control and pass the bill.

What saved the bill in the face of obvious heavy lobbying by the IDSA and the Virginia Medical Society was the overwhelming number of Lyme patients that filled the hearing room.  Very few issues get that kind of a turn out and it was impressive without a doubt.  In the face of so many patients, it was impossible to kill the bill.

So this was not a loss, it is a bump in the road.  Some may consider that spin, but it is also the truth.  We need to keep moving forward.  We have the ear of the Virginia Department of Health.  We will meet with them and we will educate them.  They have a mandate from the committee to offer all Virginia doctors a CME course on Lyme disease this year.  Following the hearing  it was agreed with the VDH representative that the CME course would not be one-sided.  If they do not fulfill our needs, we’ll be back in the 2011 session to tell the legislature where the Department of Health failed.

And, we’ll be back with H.B. 512 again in the next session. It took several attempts to pass legislation in Connecticut. We should not expect any less in Virginia, a state where Lyme wasn’t even acknowledged as a problem until a few years ago.

Most of all, THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND ADVOCACY.  We could not have gotten this far without you, and with your continued passion and support, we will continue to protect patient rights to effective treatment options.

Right now, please send Delegates Rust and Spruill your message of thanks for their support.


Tickula is back and on the loose!