When will Pennsylvania, one of the states affected most by Lyme, stop doing so little about it?
Our chief medical advisor declined to comment on legislation regarding the prevention and treatment of a disease that affects 80,000 Pennsylvanians when called on by the state Senate to do so.
White was flabbergasted.
“I just find it incredulous, that in this country that has the greatest medical knowledge in the world, that politics has reared its ugly head ... I’m sorry, I guess I’m naïve, I just don’t see where it has its place.”
The audience erupted into applause.
“I don’t understand your conflict of interest,” White pressed. “What’s going on?”
Ostroff squirmed but continued to blow smoke rings.
“So you have no knowledge on where public programs stand on this issue?” White asked.
“I think the next several speakers will address issues related to insurance,” replied Ostroff.
He was referring to reps from the insurance industry who spoke after him. Turns out, they were against paying for longer-term antibiotic treatment (though I suppose happy to pay for all those useless tests that come along with misdiagnoses.)
Then Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, who introduced the bill, took over.
“[The Department of Health] are the advocate for the health and welfare for the commonwealth of Pa., and you are advising a Secretary of those issues, and you are here and you say that you’re muzzled, that you can’t speak out?”
“The citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania need you to do that, we need you to do that.”
Ostroff repeated that he had conflicts of interest.
And so it went until White dropped the hammer.
“That is not an acceptable answer at all. I’m sorry, that is not acceptable AT ALL,” charged White, and the audience cheered.
While being scolded, Ostroff went into an off-script diatribe. At one point, he actually said something interesting: “I don’t believe that any health care provider truly believes that there are no chronic sequela of Lyme disease.”
If no health care providers “truly” believe there are no cases of chronic Lyme, then why does the IDSA, CDC and Pa. Department of Health basically deny its existence and leave patients to fend for themselves?
Ostroff eventually returned to script and delivered a prepared statement saying the Department of Health wants to focus on prevention (rather than treatment) to avoid the “devastating consequences” of Lyme, but that the DOH doesn’t have any money.
Despite the display, advocates, including Greenleaf, left with spirits high because someone actually listened. And for Lyme, that’s progress.
Letters to the Editor