Nebraska lawmakers advanced a bill Wednesday that would allow physicians to treat patients’ partners for sexually transmitted diseases without examinations -- a practice known as expedited partner therapy.
After three days of debate, the bill advanced on a 32-3 vote, with 14 senators absent or not voting.
Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha sponsored the bill (LB 528) and the Health and Human Services Committee amended it after the public hearing. The amendment (AM 605) set regulations for physicians to have proper identifying information about the patient’s partner.
The amendment was adopted on a 33-0 vote, its language replacing that of the introduced bill.
“I truly believe having expedited partner therapy will help us have healthy babies in this state,” Howard said, adding:
“I had no idea supporting babies and families and opposing sexually transmitted diseases was controversial, nor should it be.”
The bill advanced after an amendment proposed by Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha failed. The amendment (AM 809) would have protected medical practitioners from lawsuits if they chose to practice expedited partner therapy.
Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins supported that amendment, saying he knew physicians who would not take advantage of the new bill if they were not legally protected. Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial agreed.
“Why, if this is so important, do you want to place a doctor at risk?” he said.
The amendment failed, however, with 25 senators voting against the amendment and 15 voting in favor of it.