Citing Telemedicine Law, FTC Drops TMB Antitrust Probe

Following the passage of TMA-supported legislation governing telemedicine in Texas, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has closed an investigation into whether the Texas Medical Board (TMB) violated antitrust law, FTC said in a release.

In announcing it had voted June 21 to close its investigation, the FTC cited the state's new telemedicine law, which it says "fosters the growth of competitive and innovative healthcare services for Texas consumers, overriding the TMB's restrictive rules." 

Senate Bill 1107 by Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), which TMA helped craft, provides a clear framework for proper telemedicine services in Texas and clarifies that the standard of care for a telemedicine visit is the same as one done in-person. Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 1107 on May 27.

The FTC had been investigating TMB after it adopted rules in April 2015 restricting telehealth and telemedicine in Texas, a continuation of years-long wrangling with telemedicine provider Teladoc. Teladoc sued that same month over the rules, which prohibited prescription of dangerous drugs or controlled substances without a face-to-face or in-person examination of the patient. 

Teladoc's suit claimed TMB had violated antitrust law, but TMB argued that it was immune from antitrust liability because it is an agency with active supervision by the state. The lawsuit is on hold until Sept. 1. Attempts to reach Teladoc chief legal officer Adam Vandervoort were unsuccessful.

"As the Commission first noted in a 2004 report, when properly used, telemedicine has considerable promise to broaden access, lower costs, and improve health quality," FTC said in its statement. "The Commission hopes that by expanding the availability of telemedicine and telehealth alternatives, the new law will lead to many benefits for Texans, including increased competition among providers, more innovation in the delivery of care, increased access to health care services, reduced travel costs, and greater convenience."

Action, July 5, 2017

Last Updated On

April 17, 2018

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