New York officials are trying to boost funding for Lyme disease and tick-borne illnesses under a new law signed this month by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The measure, approved with bipartisan support, will create a voluntary tax check-off box to fund education, research and prevention efforts in the state. It takes effect immediately.
Sponsored by Democrats Assemblywoman Didi Barrett and Sen. Peter Harckham, as well as Republican Sen. Sue Serino, the measure is meant to address the growing concerns surroudning Lyme disease in New York. The Hudson Valley region has some of the highest cases in the country, and the changing climate has led to a rise in Lyme cases overall.
New York has the second-highest number of Lyme disease cases in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“With summer in full swing and New Yorkers spending more time outdoors, it is critically important to highlight the need to make substantive investments in research, education, and prevention initiatives to help stop the spread of Lyme and tick-borne diseases,” Serino said. “Not only will this bill give New Yorkers a chance to play an active role in this cause, it will help to raise critical awareness for this issue, and I sincerely thank Sen. Harckham for his partnership in making the fight against Lyme and TBDs a real priority.”
But despite the high instances of Lyme and tick-borne illensses, the number of cases is believed to be much higher because of inaccurate diagnostic testing. Lawmakers have called for additional funding to research these illnesses, which they say has fallen behind federal and state levels.
“The need for an increase in funding our fight against Lyme and other tick-borne diseases is greater than ever, and I thank my colleagues Sen. Serino and Assemblymember Barrett for their resolute partnership on this issue,” Harckham said. “Now, residents will have an opportunity to join the fight against these diseases when they file their taxes.”