Medical board fights back against telemedicine antitrust case

A Texas medical agency recently urged a federal court to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit that could have wide-ranging effects on the booming telemedicine industry.

The Texas Medical Board, a state agency that regulates physicians, filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals or the Fifth Circuit asking for a lawsuit brought by telemedicine provider Teladoc Inc. to be dismissed due to  “state action immunity.” State action gives state entities immunity from federal antitrust laws in some circumstances.

The Teladoc case involves a rule adopted by the Texas Medical Board that requires patients to have an in-person physician exam for certain medical services. Teladoc argued that the rule was intentionally set to “eliminate the use of ‘video consultations' in Texas” and limit patient access to telemedicine services in the state, according to the brief.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas denied the board's request to have the case dismissed using the state action doctrine in late 2015, Bloomberg BNA reported. Teladoc is expected to file a brief in the case in August. The TMA filed its brief on June 17.

Law experts predicted that the case could have a “wide-ranging effect” on the fast-growing industry thanks to the battle between licensed physicians and the “new and innovative” telemedicine competitors. In 2015 alone, more than 200 new telemedicine bills were introduced by state legislatures.