The Nebraska Legislature began its 2014 session on January 8th and over the first ten days of the session Senators introduced several pieces of legislation which could potentially impact nursing home facilities throughout Nebraska.

Senators Steve Lathrop and Les Seiler have proposed amendments to the Nebraska Hospital-Medical Liability Act to increase the amount recoverable from a health care provider for any injury or death of a patient. Sen. Lathrop introduced LB 862 and proposed to increase the limit to $2.5 million. Sen. Seiler proposed LB 893 which would increase the limit to $2 million. Currently the amount someone could recover under the Hospital-Medical Liability Act is $1.75 million which was set in 2004.

Senator Kathy Campbell introduced LB 887 which would adopt the Wellness in Nebraska Act. The proposed legislation would expand health coverage to individuals who are newly eligible for medical assistance. It would allow those newly eligible individuals who do not have access to employer sponsored insurance but are not at the federal poverty level and do not have an exceptional medical condition to enroll in a qualified health plan. The bill would also require that any private managed care organizations that provide “WIN Medicaid” coverage to ensure the newly eligible individuals have access.

Senator Colby Coash introduced LB 920 which would adopt the Public Guardianship Act. This bill would create an Office of Public Guardian to provide individuals too incapacitated persons when no private guardian or conservator is available. The public guardian will have the power to hire a deputy guardian and up to twelve associate public guardians. The proposed legislation puts a limit of an average of 40 individuals for each associate public guardian.

LB 1072, introduced by Sen. Lathrop, would set up a board to maintain a prescription monitoring program with regards to dispensing controlled substances and other drugs identified as a potential for abuse. The program will provide real time access to prescriptions information generated by dispensers and prescribers regarding a controlled substance. The patient may not opt out of having the information shared through the program, but the information in the program is not subject to public disclosure unless requested by a subpoena.

These proposed legislative bills have not been adopted and will be discussed and analyzed throughout the 2014 session.