- Texas and the state's medical board have dropped their appeal of a lower court’s refusal to dismiss Teladoc’s antitrust lawsuit challenging a restrictive telemedicine rule.
- The rule requires physicians to meet face-to-face with patients before than can prescribe treatment.
- Teladoc filed a lawsuit in federal court last year, claiming the medical board’s rule limits access to telemedicine services in the state.
Teladoc maintains that the board must be supervised by the state if it is going to establish rules, and that doing so otherwise violates federal antitrust laws. The Texas Medical Board says it is immune from federal regulation.
The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission both filed amicus briefs in the case, urging the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reject the board’s appeal on ground that the rules are anticompetitive and didn’t go through the proper review process. The American Antitrust Institute also weighed in on Teladoc’s side.
Telemedicine could fill a gap in healthcare in Texas, which is experiencing a physician shortage. According to the Texas Medical Association, the state has about 43,000 physicians caring for a population of around 23 million, ranking it 45th in the country for the number of doctors per population.
The Texas Medical Board has vowed to continue fighting Teladoc’s challenge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin.
Adam Vandervoort, Teladoc’s chief legal officer, told Modern Healthcare that the board’s outgoing executive director referred to “purely strategic” reasons for withdrawing the appeal.