In this week’s column, I would like to discuss a couple of bills that are advancing through the legislative process which will make positive changes for Nebraskans that I am proud to support:

LB 43 – Adopt the Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights Act, introduced by Senator Bolz and LB 997 – Adopt the Out-of-Network Emergency Medical Care Act which was introduced by Senator Morfeld.

LB 43 provides for victims of sexual assault certain rights related to physical examinations, interviews, and/or depositions arising out of the assault. Those who are victims of sexual assault would have the right to have an advocate of their choosing during a physical examination and have the right to a free forensic medical examination regardless of whether or not charges are pressed. For those victims between three years of age and eighteen years of age, they would have a right to a forensic interview at established child advocacy centers by professionals who are specifically trained to handle these cases.

If a victim arrives at a hospital and reports they have been sexually assaulted, the health care provider will notify the most appropriate law enforcement agency of the assault and shall submit the related evidence of the assault to law enforcement. Law enforcement shall then retain the evidence for a time longer than the statute of limitations. The victim would then have access to any reports regarding the sexual assault, including results of analysis of the evidence and whether or not the evidence matches anybody in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Combined DNA Index System.

LB 43 advanced from General File on March 5 on a vote of 41 to 0, with 8 not voting.

LB 997 allows for consumers to avoid “surprise billing” in emergency situations by out-of-network providers or facilities. During a vast majority of emergency medical situations, an individual does not have the ability to check whether or not all of the medical professionals that will be treating them are in-network. The Kaiser Foundation published a report in December, 2019, that heart-attack victims have a 50% risk of higher out-of-network charges than other diagnoses. This is because while the facility or the initial emergency room doctor is in network, the cardiologist on duty may not be in-network. When more medical professionals are added to the treatment of the condition, the risk for out-of-network charges increases.

LB 997 seeks to remedy this issue by providing that if a covered person receives emergency services at any health care facility, the facility or provider shall not bill the individual at a rate in excess of any deductible, copayment, or coinsurance amount applicable to the in-network services pursuant to the individual’s health plan. During an emergency, the only thing a person cares about should be getting timely treatment, not if a provider is in-network or out-of-network. Therefore, I was proud to support LB 997 on all stages of debate. LB 997 advanced from Select File to Final Reading on March 6.

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 mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, 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.

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