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In the last two columns, I’ve highlighted two of my legislative proposals for this session, LB 205 – Adopt the Surgical Technologist Registration Act and LB 720 – Adopt the ImagiNE Nebraska Act. This week, I’d like to introduce you to another important piece of legislation that I have introduced that seeks to increase greater access to medical care, LB 29, an expansion of Nebraska’s telehealth statutes.
Last year I introduced LB 701, a bill that would allow physicians and physician assistants to establish a patient-provider relationship via telehealth. This year, after working with the Nebraska Hospital Association, I introduced legislation to allow for other health care professions to establish those same relationships through telehealth. Through LB 29, I have sought to expand permissions for athletic trainers, clinical nurse practitioners, mental health practitioners, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physical therapists, psychologists, and others.
Telehealth services are growing rapidly in the United States and can provide access to care for individuals who live far away from health care services, and can also provide access for those who are unable to seek care outside of their home or a local healthcare center. Providers may also be able to handle larger patient volumes more efficiently by using telehealth due to decreased time for traveling and other tasks involved in a face to face visit which also has a positive impact on the cost of care.
The hearing on LB 29 was held in the Health and Human Services Committee on February 6. Following my introduction, the committee heard from ten testifiers from the affected industries who all spoke in support of the legislation. We heard testimony from the Nebraska State Athletic Trainers Association, Children’s Hospital, the Nebraska Nurse Practitioners, the Nebraska Hospital Association, the Arc of Nebraska, the Nebraska Pharmacists Association, and the Nebraska State Board of Athletic Trainers, all of whom agreed that by enacting this legislation, health care providers would be able to provide greater access to health care for the citizens of Nebraska. To highlight how telehealth provides greater health care access, Children’s Hospital stated that in 2018 alone, their practitioners conducted approximately 1,800 telehealth visits.
I look forward to working further with the members of the Health and Human Services Committee to advance this important piece of legislation to the floor of the Legislature to allow the Legislature to adopt this proposal into law.
I’d also like to bring your attention to an exciting event being hosted by the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and other local partners. On April 5 and 6, the program will be presenting the Heartland Shark Tank, which will have a number events included and is being highlighted as an Open Casting Call for ABC’s Shark Tank. You may find additional information and a more details of the events during the program at www.heartlandsharktank.com.
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Tyler and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.