OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Senate says it has taken a step to improve mental health in the Sooner State following the passage of a new bill.

Senate Bill 254, authored by Sen. Jessica Garvin,(R-Duncan), requires insurers to arrange mental and behavioral health care quickly with an out-of-state network provider if the care is not available in-network.

“In a mental health crisis, getting proper care can be a matter of life and death. This will require insurers to help patients arrange mental health care when they can’t find timely services on their own,” Garvin said. “This reform will make sure Oklahomans can get the help they need quickly and without the higher costs associated with out-of-network care. This will make Oklahoma a leader in mental health care.”

If a patient cannot find the necessary in-network mental and behavioral health care, the insurer will be required to arrange the necessary care out-of-network.

The bill also prohibits the costs from out-of-network care from being passed onto the patient outside of their normal deductible and copay.

SB 254 will also allow for telehealth services to be used when medically appropriate.


Oklahoma Politics

“When mental health services are unavailable in a reasonable timeframe, Oklahomans suffer,” Rep. Jeff Boatman, (R-Tulsa), said. “By requiring a matching rate for in-network providers when care is provided out-of-network in these situations, Oklahomans across the state can receive the assistance they need without worrying about the cost being passed on to them.”

The measure now heads to the governor’s desk.

If it is signed, it will go into effect on Nov. 1.