January 26, 2012 — The Nebraska Legislature on Wednesday fell four votes short of advancing a bill that would have expedited treatment for people exposed to sexually transmitted infections, the Omaha World-Herald reports.
The bill would have authorized doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe antibiotics to the sexual partners of people with STIs without seeing the partners in person. The practice -- known as expedited partner therapy -- is endorsed by CDC and permitted in 30 other states.
Although Nebraska law does not prohibit the practice, public health officials had pushed for the legislation as a strategy to curb high STI rates in the state. In Douglas County, chlamydia rates were 30% above the national average in 2009, according to the World-Herald.
State Sen. Amanda McGill said expedited partner therapy has been shown to reduce the spread of STIs and prevent reinfection. The legislation would encourage more widespread adoption of the practice and provide some legal protection for health care providers, she said.
"We're dealing with an epidemic," McGill told lawmakers, adding, "I encourage you to look at the reality, even if you may not approve of certain sexual behaviors."
Opponents of the bill raised concern about providing drugs to people who have not been seen by a health care provider (Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald, 1/25).