Gov. Stitt signs into law bill providing telehealth parity

Oklahoma State Capitol

Oklahoma State Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law a bill designed to ensure payment parity for physicians who care for patients through telemedicine.

Senate Bill 674 goes into effect on Nov. 1.

Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, who serves as the chair of the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, said insurance companies typically pay physicians a lower amount for telemedicine visits compared to in-person office visits for the same services. The new law ensures that doctors receive the same amount for telemedicine, according to a State Senate news release.

“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.”

Telemedicine has been around for years, but was more frequently used during the COVID-19 pandemic. SoonerCare members completed 11,941 telehealth visits in 2019. That number rose to 333,415 visits in 2020, an increase of 2,726 percent in just one year, according to the news release.

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