A federal judge last week rejected the Texas Medical Board's request to jettison a lawsuit filed against it by Teladoc over the board's new restrictions on the practice of telemedicine in the state.
The judge's decision means the case, which has implications for medical boards and telemedicine across the country, will continue to move forward.
Teladoc sued the Texas Medical Board in April over a rule that requires physicians to either meet with patients in person first before treating them remotely or have other physicians physically present with patients if the physician is treating them for the first time via technology.
In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, who previously issued a preliminary injunction to block the rule from taking effect, rejected three of the medical board's main arguments for dismissing the case, including the board's stand that it should be immune from antitrust liability as a state agency.
The judge rejected that argument based largely on a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in ,em>North Carolina Dental Board v. Federal Trade Commission. In that ruling, the Supreme Court said state licensing boards composed of active members of the professions they regulate, such as practicing doctors, are not immune from antitrust laws unless they are actively supervised by the state.
Pitman wrote that for a board to be considered actively supervised the state supervisor must have the power to veto or modify the board's decisions, and current supervision of the Texas Medical Board does not meet that requirement. —Lisa Schencker