Bill to remover state's red tape

By Greg McCortney

Senate Review

First, I’m happy to report that my bill to make it easier for state employees to sign up for legal service plans, like those provided by LegalShield in Ada, has been signed by Governor Stitt.

This legislation removes some of the unnecessary red tape, enabling more employees to take advantage of these affordable prepaid legal services.

Another of my bills is now on its way to the governor for his consideration.

Telemedicine helps ensure rural Oklahomans have greater access to health care, and it’s proven invaluable during the pandemic.

During 2019, SoonerCare members had 11,941 telehealth visits, but in 2020, that number rose to 333,415 visits, an increase approaching 3,000 percent in just a year’s time.

Here’s the problem we were facing – traditionally, insurance companies have compensated doctors at a lower rate for telemedicine visits compared to in-person visits for the exact same thing.

That’s a disincentive for health care providers to utilize telemedicine.

But during the pandemic, the governor’s emergency orders required insurance companies to reimburse doctors the same for telemedicine appointments.

This bill will make sure that parity remains in place, helping us ensure even greater health care access for Oklahomans through telemedicine.

I was disappointed that the governor recently vetoed Senate Bill 821, which would be a big help to pharmacies all across rural Oklahoma and the customers that rely on them.

We’d passed a bill a couple of years ago to make sure folks could use their local pharmacies, instead of being forced to go to another pharmacy miles away because that’s the only way their insurance would cover their prescription.

Senate Bill 821 would have strengthened that law.  The good news is, the Senate and the House have enough votes to override the veto, and I will be working hard to make that happen.

Finally, I’ve been talking about the redistricting process throughout the session. Every 10 years, we’re constitutionally mandated to use the latest U.S. Census data to redraw legislative district boundaries to make sure each district contains about the same number of people.

A decade ago, Oklahoma’s Senate districts each had just over 78,000 people. Due to population growth in our state, that number has now grown to just under 82,000.

Under the proposed changes, Senate District 13 will include Sulphur and more residents of Garvin and Hughes counties.

Those proposed Senate district maps have been approved by committee and will next move to the full Senate. To view these maps, go to www.oksenate.gov/redistricting.

I am honored to serve you in the Oklahoma State Senate. If you have a question about a legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (405) 521-5541 or by email at Greg.McCortney@oksenate.gov.

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