Nebraska lawmakers adopted an amendment Tuesday to a bill that would require physicians to give written information about an STD when providing treatment to a patient with such infections.The written information, detailing chlamydia, gonorrhea and the treatments of these sexually transmitted diseases, could then be delivered to the patient’s partner.
The amendment (AM 764), sponsored by Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha, passed unanimously, 37-0, with 12 lawmakers absent or not voting.
The underlying bill (LB 528), sponsored by Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha, would allow medical practitioners to provide treatment for chlamydia and gonorrhea to patients’ partners without having tested the partner.
Howard and McCoy stressed that this bill would help the partners and future children of those infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea.
“It’s a real problem, and it’s not just a problem for the actual individuals that get these infections,” McCoy said. “It’s a problem for the defenseless, unborn babies that are born premature, that have sometimes lifelong health challenges because of this issue.”
Howard supported McCoy’s amendment because it would strengthen the bill, she said, especially in regard to preventing a wider spread of STDs in Nebraska.
She said it fit well with the “Five P’s” of STD prevention suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which include discussing the partner, pregnancy prevention, protection from STDs, safe practices and past history of STDs.
Many other senators supported the amendment, even if some did not necessarily support Howard’s bill.
Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft opposed the bill while supporting the amendment. She questioned whether allowing medical practitioners to prescribe treatment to people they have never examined was good public policy.
“Taking prescription drugs is not as simple as taking over-the-counter aspirin,” Brasch said.
She added that she thinks it is not good policy to prescribe medicine “when you don’t know who the patient is” or “what the medical consequences could be.”
Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins said he was undecided about the bill but thought this amendment was a step to making it better, he said.
“I believe it does no harm at all to the bill,” Bloomfield said.
Senators will continue the discussion on the bill and other pending amendments Wednesday.