Health care consumer protections adopted

A bill that seeks to enhance protections for vulnerable individuals who receive health care services was given final approval March 24.

LB698, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Heath Mello, creates the Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights, which applies to individuals 60 and older, those 18 and older with a disability or who are incapacitated and to the parent or guardian of a minor who receives home care services.

A consumer of home care services, or the parent or guardian of a consumer who is a minor, will have the right to privacy and have grievances addressed in a timely manner. They also will have the right to:
• refuse service;
• participate in the approval of services and any changes in service;
• receive care in a way that promotes his or her dignity and individuality; and
• information on the cost of services and whether those costs are covered by insurance or a public or private program.

An individual who violates the bill’s provisions will be subject to a civil penalty of $100 per violation, up to a maximum of $2,000.

The bill was amended to include provisions from four additional bills.

LB963, introduced by Omaha Sen. Nicole Fox, updates state law to comply with changes to the federal Older Americans Act and equalizes the process for how the Area Agencies on Aging fund local programs.

LB708, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz, requires the state Department of Health and Human Services to develop an endorsement for assisted living facilities that provide high quality care for individuals with cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The department also is required to examine the Medicaid rate structure and make recommendations regarding a higher or supplemental reimbursement rate for facilities that qualify for the endorsement.

LB849, introduced by Bellevue Sen. Sue Crawford, requires a hospital to give each patient or the patient’s legal guardian the opportunity to name an individual as a designated caregiver.

A designated caregiver will be consulted regarding the patient’s discharge plan and the hospital will be required to describe the patient’s aftercare needs post-release or transfer, including a description and demonstration of any aftercare tasks.

LB869, also introduced by Crawford, aligns Nebraska law with federal requirements for fingerprinting and background checks of high-risk Medicaid providers.

The bill passed on a 47-0 vote.

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