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Insurance should cover disorder affecting children

To the editor:

State Rep. John Scibak has recently filed two bills concerning insurance coverage for treatment of a debilitating neuro-psychiatric syndrome that affects young children, known as Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus (PANDAS).

Symptoms include rapid onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder and/or tic disorders, sudden unexplainable rages, personality changes, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that is new or dramatically worse, anorexia, nervous system disorders, age inappropriate behaviors, separation anxiety, defensiveness caused from hyperactive senses, noticeable decrease in handwriting or math skills and frequent urination.

While medical science’s understanding of the syndrome is incomplete, and medical academics continue to study and debate the details, many medical researchers and clinical specialists today credit compelling evidence that the most effective and least invasive treatment for some children with the disorder is intravenous immune globulin.

Unfortunately, because this therapy is fairly costly and medical research of the syndrome still in its relatively early stages, there is great variation in health insurance companies’ coverage — leaving some families afflicted with this disease to choose between their children’s health and financial ruin.

These bills — HD3192 and HD2669 — would require insurance coverage of this treatment for a child when deemed necessary by one of our commonwealth’s esteemed medical specialists.

I understand that state Rep. Peter Kocot has signed on as a co-sponsor of the bills and I am hopeful other Massachusetts representatives and senators will also join in support of this humane and sensible legislation.

Andrew Sirulnik

Northampton

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