Timilty Joins MA Senate Passing Bill to Require Insurance Coverage for Children with PANS/PANDAS
(BOSTON 11/05/2020) Recently, State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate passing legislation that would mandate insurance coverage for children with pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndromes (PANS) and pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS). The bill, An Act relative to insurance coverage for PANDAS/PANS, would ensure that children with PANS or PANDAS receive optimal care by helping patients and their families access specialized diagnostic tests and effective treatments.
“Healthcare access is a priority of mine, as well as my colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate. This bill is a step in the right direction for, not only the children who have this illness, but also for their families and caregivers,” said Timilty. “When there is an ill child, the entire family is under a large amount of stress and worry. At the very least, this bill will remove hurdles from accessing diagnosis and treatment.”
PANS/PANDAS are life-changing conditions, often triggered by infections such as strep throat, which can occur suddenly in previously healthy children between the ages of two and 12. These conditions result in marked detrimental personality changes. For example, some changes that occur include obsessions and compulsions, extreme anxiety, angry rages, trouble sleeping, difficulty with schoolwork, bodily tics and urinary frequency or incontinence.
Obtaining a correct diagnosis can, at times, be difficult because the symptoms mimic other illnesses and treatment. As a result, diagnosis and treatment for PANS/PANDAS is not always covered by insurance. This legislation will change that situation by ensuring that treatment for PANS/PANDAS is covered by insurance in the Commonwealth. Medical professionals will be authorized to prescribe and execute courses of treatment for PANS/PANDAS patients. Those treatments may include, for example, intravenous immunoglobulin therapy (IVIG) in the most acute cases.
“This legislation means that the most acute and critically ill PANDAS/PANS patients will not have to live a tortured life of illness and symptom management. The Senate has put the medical treatment for this horrible disease back where it belongs: between the patient and their medical provider,” said Sheilah Gauch and Jennifer Vitelli, co-leaders with the Massachusetts Coalition of PANDAS/PANS Legislation. “It has been inspiring and incredibly emotional for our families to have their children’s voices heard by both the Senate and the House during this session. To listen to children, especially during this pandemic, shows the true character of those who serve the Commonwealth. We look forward to getting this bill to the Governor’s desk before the end of the year.”
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.