News Release: Committee hears bill to make telehealth changes permanent
NEWS RELEASE from the Platte Institute
Contact: Adam Weinberg
Mobile: (402) 500-0209
Legislative testimony for Feb. 5, 2021: LB400
Permanent telehealth reforms considered by committee
LINCOLN, NE – Today, Platte Institute Director of Government Relations Nicole Fox will testify in support of Sen. John Arch’s Legislative Bill 400 before the Nebraska Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. Fox’s written testimony is available at PlatteInstitute.org/Testimony. The hearing will be held in State Capitol room 1510 at 9:30 a.m. Central Time. A schedule of hearing livestreams is provided by NET Nebraska here.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, states and the federal government provided emergency executive orders expanding access to telehealth services through private insurance and Medicaid. Because these changes will expire after the COVID-19 emergency ends, LB400 proposes to make a number of permanent changes to Nebraska’s telehealth policies through state law.
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 a 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 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 also expands the definition of telehealth to include audio-only services for delivering 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. If Nebraska makes the temporary reforms prompted by the pandemic permanent, it could help telehealth—a tool long-promised to expand access and lower costs—finally reach its full potential,” said Fox.
To schedule an interview on this topic, please contact Adam Weinberg at (402) 500-0209 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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