Te­ladoc’s law­suit against Texas Med­i­cal Board to pro­ceed

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Lisa Schencker

A fed­eral judge last week re­jected the Texas Med­i­cal Board’s re­quest to jet­ti­son a law­suit filed against it by Te­ladoc over the board’s new re­stric­tions on the prac­tice of telemedicine in the state.

The judge’s de­ci­sion means the case, which has im­pli­ca­tions for med­i­cal boards and telemedicine across the coun­try, will con­tinue to move for­ward.

Te­ladoc sued the Texas Med­i­cal Board in April over a rule that re­quires physi­cians to ei­ther meet with pa­tients in per­son first be­fore treat­ing them re­motely or have other physi­cians phys­i­cally present with pa­tients if the physi­cian is treat­ing them for the first time via tech­nol­ogy.

In his opin­ion, U.S. Dis­trict Judge Robert Pit­man, who pre­vi­ously is­sued a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion to block the rule from tak­ing ef­fect, re­jected three of the med­i­cal board’s main ar­gu­ments for dis­miss­ing the case, in­clud­ing the board’s stand that it should be im­mune from an­titrust li­a­bil­ity as a state agency.

The judge re­jected that ar­gu­ment based largely on a re­cent U.S. Supreme Court rul­ing in North Carolina Den­tal Board v. Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion. In that rul­ing, the Supreme Court said state li­cens­ing boards com­posed of ac­tive mem­bers of the pro­fes­sions they reg­u­late, such as prac­tic­ing doc­tors, are not im­mune from an­titrust laws un­less they are ac­tively su­per­vised by the state.

Pit­man wrote that for a board to be con­sid­ered ac­tively su­per­vised the state su­per­vi­sor must have the power to veto or mod­ify the board’s de­ci­sions, and cur­rent su­per­vi­sion of the Texas Med­i­cal Board does not meet that re­quire­ment.

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