OKALHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Senate approved a bill created to ensure payment parity for physicians who care for patients through telemedicine.
Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, who wrote Senate Bill 674, said insurance companies typically pay physicians lower amounts for telemedicine visits compared to the same services performed during in-person office visits, according to a State Senate news release.
“During the (COVID-19) pandemic, the governor’s emergency orders guaranteed parity in payments. SB 674 would make that permanent, encouraging continued and expanded use of telemedicine,” the news release states.
SoonerCare members completed 11,941 telehealth visits in 2019. That statistic rose to 333,415 visits in 2020, an increase of 2,726 percent in just one year, according to the news release.
“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, wrote the bill for the House.
“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.”
The bill next goes to Gov. Kevin Stitt for consideration.