OKLAHOMA CITY — The full Senate gave final approval to legislation Thursday to ensure Oklahomans have access to mental and behavioral health care in a timely and more affordable manner.
Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, authored Senate Bill 254, requiring insurers to arrange such care quickly with an out-of-network provider if such care is unavailable 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.”
Under the measure, should a patient not be able to 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 prohibits costs for out-of-network care from being passed on to the patient outside of their normal deductible and copay. Each health plan will also be required to have a documented procedure to assist a plan member in accessing out-of-network behavioral health care. It further allows the Oklahoma Insurance Department to see the procedure if they have to investigate an instance of a failure to ensure coverage. Finally, SB 254 will allow telehealth services to be used when medically appropriate.
Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa, was the bill’s principal House author.
The measure goes to the governor’s office for final consideration. If signed, the new law would go into effect Nov. 1, 2023.