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OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill ensuring payment parity for physicians who care for patients using telemedicine has been signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt. Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, is the principal Senate author of Senate Bill 674, and the principal House author is Rep. Mark McEntire, R-Duncan. The measure was signed on Wednesday.
While telemedicine has been in use a number of years, it’s potential was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.
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, but under the governor’s emergency orders, doctors received the same amount for telemedicine. SB 674 will make that permanent.
“We know there’s a shortage of health care professionals in rural Oklahoma, particularly specialists. Without telemedicine, the only option for many patients is to travel long distances to be seen,” McCortney said. “But telemedicine is a boon to Oklahomans in urban areas as well. It can mean taking less time off work, and it is extremely important for those who have mobility or transportation concerns. This legislation will help us continue to expand the use of telemedicine, improving access for people in every part of Oklahoma, and ultimately, improving the health of our citizens.”
SB 674 takes effect Nov. 1, 2021.
“Telehealth is definitely part of the future of healthcare and, more importantly, it’s the right now solution for those who need care and for health care providers,” said McEntire, chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Health. “I’m glad to see this bill signed into law to further help us in our mission of improving health outcomes for all Oklahomans.”
For more information, contact Sen. Greg McCortney at 405-521-5541 or email Greg.McCortney@oksenate.gov