Senate gives final approval to measure providing telehealth parity

Mike Seals - April 29, 2021 10:30 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – The full Senate has given final approval to a bill ensuring payment parity for physicians who care for patients using telemedicine.  Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, is the principal Senate author of Senate Bill 674. The measure was approved on Thursday.

McCortney, chair of the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, said insurance companies have typically paid physicians a lower amount for telemedicine visits compared to in-person office visits for the same services.  During the pandemic, the governor’s emergency orders guaranteed parity in payments.  SB 674 would make that permanent, encouraging continued and expanded use of telemedicine.

During 2019, SoonerCare members completed 11,941 telehealth visits.  In 2020, that number rose to 333,415 visits, an increase of 2,726 percent in just one year.

“SB 674 will help us capture the momentum we’ve seen this past year and encourage more and better use of telemedicine,” McCortney said. “It means employees can take less time off work for medical appointments, and it helps seniors who may no longer drive or have other mobility issues—it can be a great convenience for just about anyone, and it helps provide greater access to care in our rural communities.”

Rep. Mark McEntire, R-Duncan, chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Health, is the House principal author of the legislation.

“Assuring that all insurers equally cover telehealth services is something that will benefit patients and health care providers across our state,” McEntire said. “We learned during the pandemic that telehealth actually increased the frequency of people consulting with their doctors, and we’re hopeful that will lead to better health outcomes, which would be of great benefit to all of us.”

SB 674 will now be sent to the governor for his consideration.

For more information, contact Sen. Greg McCortney at 405-521-5541 or email [email protected].

 

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