TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Fred H. Madden (D-Gloucester/Camden) that would extend the work of the New Jersey Epilepsy Task Force for another year and add representation for school nurses was approved today by the General Assembly.
“Although epilepsy is a treatable disease, further research is needed to help fight the stigma surrounding this lifelong condition,” said Madden, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “In order to provide sound recommendations, the task force needs enough time to examine and evaluate strategies for improving the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of epilepsy. This legislation will play an important role in continuing the dialogue among health care professionals and educating the public about epilepsy and other seizure disorders.”
The bill, S-2353, would authorize the task force to carry on its work for one additional year and add one new member to the task force, representing the New Jersey State School Nurses Association.
Further, the bill would direct the task force to issue two reports with its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature. Under provisions of the bill, the interim report must be issued no later than 12 months after the initial meeting of the task force, and the final report must be issued within 12 months of the initial report. The reports would include proposals to address the psychosocial issues faced by persons with epilepsy, such as depression, stigmatization, and discrimination, along with bills that the task force recommends for adoption by the Legislature.
Epilepsy is the medical term used to describe a pattern of recurring seizures where an individual has no way of controlling bodily functions or unusual behavior. About 2.7 million Americans have epilepsy, with 30% of that population being children under the age of 18. According to the Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey, one in 10 people will have a seizure in their lifetime, and this year another 200,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with epilepsy.
Senator Madden has been a longtime advocate for raising public awareness of epilepsy and other chronic diseases. He authored the legislation that created the New Jersey Epilepsy Task Force in 2010, and was the recipient of the Legislator of the Year Award by The Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey, also in 2010.
The bill was approved by the Senate with a vote of 37-0 last December. It cleared the General Assembly today with a vote of 75-0. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.