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Local Lyme disease advocates pose with Gov. Deval Patrick after he signed the fiscal 2011 budget last week in his office.

Gov. Patrick signed Lyme disease legislation into law as outside section 67 of the fiscal 2011 budget. The legislation, which protects physicians who treat Lyme disease patients for longer than 30 days when deemed necessary, may mean that some day, many who suffer from persistent Lyme disease won’t have to travel to other states for treatment.

Lyme disease patients and families owe state Rep. Bob Hargraves, R-Groton, and Senate Majority Leader Fred Berry, D-Peabody, an enormous amount of gratitude. Both worked extremely hard to push this bipartisan bill through the Legislature and to encourage the governor to sign it.

It had initially been expected that the governor would actually veto this section. Fortunately, a meeting between the advocates and Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach, combined with a massive outpouring from Lyme disease patients around the state, persuaded the governor to approve the bill.

Hargraves arranged for Lyme advocates who were active in lobbying for the legislation at the Statehouse to meet with the governor after the signing.

The bill’s language is posted on the governor’s website at: http://www.mass.gov/bb/gaa/fy2011/os_11/h67.htm.

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