STD treatment bill advances, would ease prescription process for infections

2013-03-27T15:00:00Z 2013-05-01T10:48:06Z STD treatment bill advances, would ease prescription process for infectionsBy JoANNE YOUNG / Lincoln Journal Star

After spending most of the morning session debating a measure that would allow treatment of a patient's partner for specific sexually transmitted infections, the Legislature advanced the bill Wednesday.

The sponsor of the bill (LB528), Omaha Sen. Sara Howard, said that while she wasn't thrilled about being the cause of more than five hours of debate on chlamydia and gonorrhea, she was glad the Legislature was talking about such an important public health issue.

The bill would allow expedited partner therapy for the treatment of gonorrhea and chlamydia, permitting physicians, physician's assistants or advanced practice registered nurses who diagnose sexually transmitted diseases to prescribe medication to those patients' partners without examination.

The debate rose or fell (depending on how you look at it) to a level that had one senator -- Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial -- declaring a vote for the bill was an endorsement of statutory rape and would cause promiscuity, and another -- Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers -- saying he'd never heard such "claptrap" on the floor in all his days in the Legislature, which number nearly 14,000.

Howard said the bill wasn't about promiscuity, but about healthy families and giving babies the chance to be born healthy and disease-free.

The bill would ensure the therapy would be done in accordance with recommendations and guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medication would be prescribed only for partners unable or unwilling to go in for treatment -- and only if they were named. 

Senators defeated an amendment, offered by Omaha Sen. Beau McCoy, on a 15-27 vote that would have made medical providers who participated in expedited partner therapy immune from civil liability.

Howard told senators she had no idea the bill would be so controversial.

Last year, a bill on the same topic failed by only a few votes, she said later. This year, she brought medical providers, pharmacists and lawyers together and wrote the bill so they all were comfortable with it.

One compromise was to remove the immunity provision and to outline the standard of care for expedited partner therapy so that if providers didn't follow that standard, they would be open for potential liability.

"However, they felt that that was defensible, so they were comfortable with that compromise," she said.

It's stunning how many people in her Omaha district, Douglas County and the state are infected with chlamydia and gonorrhea, she said.

"I work at a health clinic, and we see this problem every day," Howard said. "When providers are telling me they need the opportunity to use expedited partner therapy, I want to help them 100 percent."

Senators advanced the bill to a second round of debate on a 32-3 vote.

Reach JoAnne Young at 402-473-7228 or You can follow JoAnne's tweets at

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Voter identification

Legislature shelves voter photo ID bill

The Nebraska Legislature voted Wednesday to table a hotly contested voter photo ID bill for the remainder of the 2015 legislative session, bringing an early end to a two-day filibuster.

Reclassification for abortion clinics

Abortion clinics would face higher standards under lawmaker's plan

Clinics in Nebraska that perform five or more abortions a month would face stricter care standards under a bill introduced by Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha on Friday.

Winner-take-all elections

Winner-take-all bill blocked and likely done for the year

The legislative proposal to return Nebraska to a winner-take-all presidential electoral vote system was trapped Tuesday by a successful filibuster and essentially blocked from further consideration this session.

Assistance for family-planning services

Family planning, women's preventive health bill fails in Legislature

Senators attempting to enhance family planning for low-income Nebraska women fell short Thursday because of a looming question about whether any of the funds could include abortion counseling.

Mandatory minimum sentences

Mandatory minimum sentences could end in Nebraska

Prosecutors, the Omaha mayor’s office and law enforcement took aim Wednesday at Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers' bills to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for gun charges and habitual offenders.

Concealed weapons in private schools

Bill would allow private school security to carry concealed weapons

Gun rights supporters in the Legislature are attempting to slowly add to Nebraska's concealed carry legislation.

Online petition signatures

Online petition signatures would be allowed under bill

Petition circulators could leave the streets and gather signatures on the information superhighway if the Legislature OKs a plan put forth by a lawmaker from Columbus.