As the Loudoun Board of Supervisors finalized its legislative priority list for the next General Assembly session, two items were highlighted by speakers during a Nov. 12 public hearing.
Susan Green, legislative counsel for the National Capital Lyme Disease Association, said that a new initiative the board is supporting is important for those suffering from tick-borne infection.
Supervisors are backing a change to state law that would allows doctors to prescribe, administer, or dispense long-term antibiotic therapy to patients diagnosed with Lyme disease and to prevent the state Board of Medicine from initiating disciplinary actions against doctors in those cases, provided the clinical diagnosis and treatment had been documented in the patient’s medical record.
Green said the change would allow patients to choose two courses of treatment for Lyme, which has been reported in epidemic numbers in Loudoun County. Last year, a record number of 976 confirmed Lyme cases were reported in Virginia.
Long-term therapy has been controversial. The standard treatment is two to four weeks of antibiotic therapy. In cases where symptoms persist, some patients are denied additional antibiotic treatment because the perception in some medical circles, including the Centers for Disease Control, that long-term infection is rare or nonexistent. Studies of so-called Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome are continuing.
Green also she her agency is finding that not all doctors are informing their patients that a negative result on a Lyme test doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t contracted the disease. Failure to do that is a violation of a law approved by the General Assembly in 2013, she noted.
Another bill requested by supervisors next year would allow localities to provide more help to volunteer first responders.
Bradley Quin, president of the Purcellville Volunteer Fire Company, supported the board’s push to change the state code so that mental health services could be offered to volunteers through employee assistance programs. The county’s paid fire and rescue personnel already have access to those services.
Quin recalled a recent week during which his crews responded to two severe traffic crashes, with six victims in three cars and another involving a fatality.
“Two of my responders were profoundly affected by what they saw and had to do on the scene that evening. They clearly needed help processing what occurred and all I could offer them was the assistance of the chaplain’s service—thank goodness for that—but I worried that they might need more help than could be provided there,” Quin said.
Those comments address only two elements listed in the board’s 15-page legislative priority list. That document will be used by the county’s lobbyist and, supervisors hope, assembly members representing Loudoun to guide their work during the 60-day session, which opens Jan. 13.
The transportation portion of the legislative program focuses on three sore spots.
The board supports four measures that would control toll rates on the Dulles Greenway, including advocacy of distance-based pricing and, for the first time, support for the option of having the state purchase the privately-owned highway.
The state’s controversial proposal to allow single occupancy vehicles to travel on I-66 inside the Capital Beltway during rush hour if they pay tolls was universally panned by candidates during the election. Supervisors say they’ll oppose the plan in Richmond, too.
If the tolls are imposed, the Loudoun board doesn’t want the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission setting the toll rates or distributing toll revenue. Critics say NVTC memberships are too limited, providing Loudoun with little control over how that money would be spent.
With the Silver Line construction underway in Loudoun, supervisors are looking for more accountability concerning the Washington Metropolitan Washington Transit Authority. One position statement seeks to give the NVTC more oversight on WMATA issues; another advocates the state initiating an update of the WMATA Compact with Maryland and Washington, DC, to ensure that all the signatories have access to financial records and audits.