News Release: Permanent telehealth reforms adopted unanimously by Unicameral
NEWS RELEASE from the Platte Institute
Contact: Adam Weinberg
Mobile: (402) 500-0209
Permanent telehealth reforms adopted unanimously by Unicameral
LINCOLN, NE – Today, Nebraska state senators unanimously adopted Sen. John Arch’s Legislative Bill 400, which makes permanent a number of temporary changes related to telehealth made by emergency order at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
LB400 allows telehealth services to be initiated from any location where a patient may be, which could include their home, school, or place of work. This change means a patient will not have to be physically present in a hospital or clinic setting for an appropriate consultation with a remote practitioner to be performed.
The changes recommended in LB400 are the result of a legislative interim study on the impact of telehealth during the pandemic.
“Many of the telehealth proponents who testified at the interim hearing noted that eliminating geographic restrictions was a top component of improving access,” said Platte Institute Director of Government Relations Nicole Fox.
“Travel times were significantly reduced for those in rural areas. Workers did not have to take significant blocks of time off work. Children benefitted from being in their home environment,” said Fox
The bill expands the definition of telehealth to include audio-only services for delivering individual behavioral health care, which saw a notable increase in utilization during the pandemic.
The process for receiving patient consent for initial telehealth consultations would also be changed. Current law requires written consent for a telehealth appointment to be made. LB400 would allow verbal consent to be provided during a telehealth visit, along as the patient provided written consent within 10 days. The written consent could also be provided electronically.
“All the proposed reforms in LB400 not only reduce barriers to telehealth access, but they also increase choices available to patients. LB400 could help telehealth—a tool long-promised to expand access and lower costs—finally reach its full potential,” said Fox.
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