Nebraska lawmakers approve expanded telehealth access

Nebraska lawmakers approve expanded telehealth access

The Nebraska Legislature has unanimously passed a bill supported by the Platte Institute which makes pandemic emergency changes to telehealth regulations permanent.

LB400 had previously been advanced out of the Health and Human Services Committee and prioritized by its sponsor, Sen. John Arch.

Prior to the pandemic, accessing telehealth services meant that individuals had to go to a hospital or clinic instead of being able to remain at home. During the pandemic, this requirement was lifted as part of an emergency executive order.

The emergency order also waived the requirement for patients accessing telehealth services to provide written consent before a telehealth visit could occur.

When medical needs are urgent, significant travel is needed, or a patient or caregiver must take time away from work or school, the results are delayed medical evaluation, treatment, and follow-up care, and lost income.

Policymakers recognized that both of these barriers had been removed through the pandemic emergency orders.

The passage of LB400 means patients may receive telehealth services from the location of their choosing instead of being required to go to a hospital or clinic.  It also means verbal consent in lieu of written consent can be given for an initial visit, provided that a signature for consent to treat is obtained within ten days of the initial telehealth consultation, which can be an electronic signature.

Legislatures across the country are debating similar health care regulatory rollback permanency bills in 2021.  Sen. Arch and his colleagues in the Legislature should be proud to be one of the early states to reduce barriers to health care access.

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