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As most of you know, one of the unique characteristics of the Nebraska Legislature is that every bill introduced by a senator receives a public hearing. This week, I would like to discuss two of the bills I introduced that had their committee hearing this week. LB 337 – Adopt the Step-Therapy Reform Act was heard on Monday in the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee and LB 143 – Require notice to school districts regarding changes in child placement was heard in the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday.
LB 337 establishes the Step Therapy Reform Act which enshrines into state statute common sense guard rails for the practice of step therapy. Step therapy, also known as Fail First, is a program commonly used by insurers to control the order in which a patient takes certain therapies approved for a given condition. Under step therapy, a patient may be required to try one or more alternative prescription drugs chosen by their insurer before coverage is granted for the drug prescribed by that patient’s health care provider. Because of this, a patient may have delayed access to the best therapy for their condition.
The Committee heard from four testifiers in support, 8 testifiers who submitted written testimony, and 38 people and groups who submitted letters in support of the bill and there was no opposition to the bill. This level of support told me, and the Committee, that this is an issue we as the Nebraska Legislature needs to address. The Committee advanced the bill with no dissenting votes and the bill was placed on General File on February 4.
LB 143 requires that if a determination is made by the Department of Health and Human Services that it is in the best interest of the child who is in the care of the department to not remain in the same school district after a placement change is made, the notice of placement change that is filed with the Court shall also be provided to the new school where the child will be enrolled.
Currently, the Department provides what is known as a “superintendent’s letter” to the new school if a child is to be placed in the school district, but there is no statutory requirement as to when this letter is delivered, which can lead to a disruption for the child if the new school is unable to provide needed services right away. By providing a deadline to the Department to notify the new school, our students who are in foster care or wards of the state will be more successful because the schools will be made aware of the needs of the student.
During the hearing, the Health and Human Services Committee heard from area superintendents, school advocacy groups, and child advocacy groups and there was no opposition during the hearing. As of this column, the Health and Human Services Committee has not taken action on the bill, but I believe the bill will advance as this communication is needed in order to allow our schools to set the students in the foster care system for success.
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.