On April 10, 2017, a Texas federal court granted a motion to extend the stay of the Teladoc lawsuit against the Texas Medical Board (“TMB”). The court had previously granted a motion to stay the case until April 19, 2017. The case has now been stayed until September 1, 2017 to allow both parties to continue discussions in an efficient and cost-effective manner. According to the parties’ joint motion to extend the stay filed on April 7, 2017, Teladoc and the TMB have made “great progress” in their discussions.
This case was originally filed in 2015 by Teladoc, Inc. in response to the TMB’s rule changes to telemedicine in 2015. Teladoc argued, among other points, that the TMB violated federal antitrust laws in its regulation of telemedicine services in the state, and in particular, the TMB was seeking to block Teladoc from competing with traditional brick-and-mortar physician practices, resulting in higher prices for patients and less access to physicians.
The Texas Legislature is currently in its 85th legislative session and numerous telemedicine bills have been filed that could affect the outcome of Teladoc’s lawsuit. In particular, Senate Bill 1107 (“SB 1107”) would restrict the TMB’s discretion when it comes to telemedicine. SB 1107 would statutorily prescribe that services involving telemedicine are subject to the same standard of care that would apply to the provision of services in an in-person setting, and that no regulatory authority (including the TMB) can adopt rules that impose a higher standard of care. SB 1107 also removes the statutory provision that allows the TMB to establish rules requiring a face-to-face consultation between the patient and physician, and further establishes that a valid practitioner-patient relationship can be created even if the physician has never seen the patient face-to-face.
SB 1107 was recently passed out of the Senate by a unanimous vote and was received by the House on March 30, 2017. If SB 1107 becomes law, the TMB would not be able to supersede by rulemaking what is in the statute, and thus many of the TMB’s 2015 telemedicine rules (including those at issue in the Teladoc lawsuit) would have to be modified.
The Teladoc lawsuit is Teladoc, Inc. et al v. Texas Medical Board, et al, filed on April 29, 2015 in the United States District Court – Western Division (Austin), case number 1:15cv343.