A Teladoc Win for Telehealth
On December 14, 2015, a judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas denied the Texas Medical Board’s (TMB) motion to dismiss Teladoc's lawsuit. The Texas Court determined that Teladoc, a telehealth platform based in Texas, stated a claim upon which relief could plausibly be granted. This telehealth lawsuit by Teladoc is the latest in a series of actions against the Texas Medical Board.
Teladoc filed the antitrust lawsuit against the Texas Medical Board on April 29, 2015, in response to new restrictions on the practice of telehealth imposed in Texas by the TMB. The Texas telehealth regulations being challenged prohibit all providers from evaluating and treating patients via electronic/digital means without either first conducting an in-person examination or having another healthcare worker conduct an in-person examination. The complaint alleges that the revised regulations violate the Sherman Act and the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution. Teladoc claims that the revisions will raise healthcare prices and reduce access to physician services in Texas in addition to causing Teladoc to experience substantial and irreparable harm. On May 29, 2015, shortly after the Teladoc filed its complaint, the court awarded Teladoc with an injunction to prevent the revised regulations from being implemented. In the latest action, the Texas Court denied the TMB's motion to dismiss the case. Both the May injunction order and the court's recent denial allowing Teladoc's case to move forward underscore recent trends in healthcare as many states contemplate ways that telemedicine can help cut costs while providing increased access and efficiency to high-quality healthcare.
Telehealth utilizes a variety of methods to deliver virtual medical and mental health care to patients across the country. State legislatures have been increasingly open to finding ways to integrate telehealth into the current healthcare delivery models. To illustrate this point, the Center for Connected Health Policy found that in 2015, state legislators in 42 states introduced 200 bills addressing telehealth. It is likely that the growing interest in telehealth will lead to thought-provoking implications for the future of telehealth.