Nebraska Legislature to debate expanded telehealth access
A measure expanding access to telehealth services in Nebraska has been advanced from the Health and Human Services Committee and now awaits legislative debate. The Platte Institute was one of twelve organizations providing testimony in support of Sen. John Arch’s LB400.
Today, the Sarpy County senator gave the bill his priority designation. Senators are able to designate one bill their personal priority legislation each year, generally assuring it time on the session’s legislative calendar.
For years, policymakers and influencers in Nebraska have expressed a desire to expand telehealth services.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, accessing telehealth in Nebraska meant that individuals had to go to a hospital or clinic to access telehealth services instead of being able to remain at home. It also meant that a pre-existing patient-provider relationship had to have been established, and in-person signed consent to treat via telehealth had to be obtained.
During the pandemic, this requirement was lifted to help provide Nebraskans a safe and convenient means to access medical care. In fact, all 50 states temporarily expanded access to telehealth services.
Health care providers were quick to realize that Nebraskans did not hesitate to take advantage of these reduced barriers to access the medical care and treatment they needed. Sen. John Arch was also quick to realize that with the success of reducing these barriers, it only made sense to make them permanent.
Sen. John Arch recognized that permanent reforms to telehealth could help and encourage patients—especially vulnerable patients and those in rural areas—to seek care in a timelier manner and comply with follow-up medical needs. Reform could broaden the availability of health care providers, not only in terms of the number of providers, but also in terms of access to a wider variety of health care disciplines.
Here are the barriers removed by LB400:
- Prohibits the exclusion of telehealth services based on originating location.
- Amends the definition of telehealth to include audio-only services for the delivery of behavioral health services.
- Allows verbal consent in lieu of written consent for an initial visit, provided that a signature (electronic signature permitted) for consent to treat is obtained within ten days of the initial telehealth consultation.
If Nebraska passes LB400, it could help telehealth—a tool long-promised to expand access and lower costs—finally reach its full potential.