Addiction Policy News

OKSAM Supports Legislation to Improve Access to Telehealth

April 16, 2021

 

On April 16, the Oklahoma Society of Addiction Medicine (OKSAM) submitted a letter in support of SB674, which would dramatically expand access to addiction treatment by mandating that certain insurers cover telehealth. Specifically, the legislation would require that insurers reimburse services delivered through telehealth at the same rate as those services delivered in-person, as well as prohibit additional utilization review that is not required for those same services delivered in-person. The bill would also prohibit deductibles, copays and coinsurance that are specific to telehealth, and not similarly applied to other services covered under the insurance plan. 

 

The letter focused on the positive impact of telehealth on access and quality of addiction treatment. Telehealth can allow for more frequent communication with a patient’s addiction care team, provide additional privacy, help address the stigma of receiving addiction treatment, give clinicians insight into patients personal lives, and possibly improve the therapeutic alliance. Furthermore, the cost savings associated with improved access to telehealth are also substantial, with one study finding that telehealth diverts patients from more expensive care settings. This same study found that cost savings were sufficient to offset the additional utilization of healthcare services caused by the convenience and accessibility of telehealth to patients. 

 

Read the letter here.

 

Read the bill here.