April 30, 2021   This week came with a spot of good news as one of the Oklahoma Academy of Family Physician's priority bills was sent on its way to the governor’s desk. SB674, if signed by Gov. Stitt, will provide payment parity for telehealth services for all providers. On Thursday, the Senate accepted amendments that were made in the House that included compromise language reached with Blue Cross Blue Shield. A coalition of providers has worked on this legislation for the last year. The coalition and our authors, Sen. McCortney and Rep. McEntire, stayed strong when the measure went to the House and a compromise was proposed that would have taken out medical providers. Instead, the group pushed the bill forward until palatable compromise language was offered. We hope that this will be a valuable tool for you and your patients going forward and will continue to foster the growth and usefulness of telehealth in this state. When the bill arrives on the governor’s desk, most likely Monday or Tuesday, he will have five days to sign or veto it (not counting Sundays) or it becomes law automatically. Other measures we are still waiting on acceptance or rejection of House amendments or their next step in conference committee:
  • SB516 – would allow physicians to supervise as many PAs as they like. This is a request of the PAs. The bill author said he has not decided what to do with the bill.
  • SB131 – would instruct the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to start its own internal managed care system thus blocking privatized managed care. It remains to be seen whether the Senate will take up the measure but a coalition of providers will be pushing.
  • SB574 – instructs the state to develop a state health information exchange. The amendments would allow providers to use their current system.
  • SB689 – would change the makeup of the Medical Advisory Committee at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and also instructs the managed care companies regarding transportation. The author has rejected amendments but said he has not decided what to do with the bill yet.
  • SB658 – the last remaining anti-vaccine measure. This bill was heavily amended in the House and would require school districts to state that students can be exempted from immunizations every time requirements are mentioned. It also would set parameters regarding school district mask mandates and how to dispute them. The author was changed to Sen. Standridge after Sen. Dahm made comments in the press regarding Vice President Harris.
While we are down to a few bills left, the budget and conference process has begun and promises to keep us plenty busy! Stay tuned.

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