Ricketts offers praise for direct primary care measure, signs it into law

By Emily Nohr
World-Herald Bureau, 

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts on Tuesday praised a bill that will offer Nebraskans a new option for getting basic health care.

Legislative Bill 817 will open the door for doctors and patients in Nebraska to adopt an alternative to health insurance called direct primary care agreements.

Ricketts said the proposal creates another option for people to receive health care, while giving doctors more flexibility. The governor approved the bill March 30 after lawmakers passed it 48-0.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity here,” Ricketts said during Tuesday’s ceremonial bill signing.

Under direct primary care agreements, patients pay a flat monthly fee to their family doctor or nurse practitioner to cover all their primary care needs.

LB 817, sponsored by Ralston State Sen. Merv Riepe, also sets basic standards for the agreements and makes clear that they are not insurance plans and therefore not subject to state insurance regulations.

The bill also provides patients instant access to doctors from mobile phones, allows doctors to diagnose and prescribe medicine without an office visit, and enhances medical care delivery through a stronger patient-doctor relationship.

“This is not the end,” Riepe said. “This is the beginning.”

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