…And the Texas’ telehealth saga continues with U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pittman blocking action taken by the Texas Medical Board in April to prevent doctors from issuing prescriptions or making certain diagnoses to new patients when their first meeting is by telephone.
Pittman issued an injunction against Rule 190.8, which would have taken effect June 3rd. Teladoc had filed a lawsuit on April 29 against the board, arguing that it was violating federal law, including the Sherman Antitrust Act, by killing its business model. As reported in the Dallas/Fort Worth Healthcare Daily, the judge noted that “at least two circuit courts have recognized destruction of a business model may constitute irreparable injury.”
Unsurprisingly, Texas Medical Association President Tom Garcia said he was “sorely disappointed” with the ruling. “Protecting patient health and safety and improving the quality of patient care are the Texas Medical Board’s responsibilities,” he said in the statement. “(The) TMA supports the challenged rules and believe they fulfill the board’s mission.”
Dallas-based Teladoc, which does some 70% of its business via phone and operates in 48 states, noted this is the sixth time in the past four years that the courts have sided with the company in their battle with the Texas Medical Board.
“Not only is telehealth the wave of the future, but Texas physicians have been treating patients without a prior in-person visit for decades,” Jason Gorevic, the company’s CEO said in a press release. “We are happy to be able to continue serving Texas citizens, employers and health plans by enabling them to access high-quality care in a cost-effective manner.”