The Texas legislature has sent a bill to the governor's desk that will end a long-running battle over the state's telemedicine requirements and open the door for broader virtual care.
The new law will allow providers to care for patients virtually without first having an in-person meeting, an issue that has been contentious since 2011, when the Texas Medical Board wrote Teladoc a letter saying it couldn't provide telehealth visits without having in-the-flesh patient visits beforehand.
Teladoc sued the Texas Medical Board in 2015, alleging it violated antitrust law. Teladoc received support from the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission in the suit after the board fought hard to get the dispute tossed out of court..
The law will also require that, if a patient has a primary care physician and agrees to have his or her treatment information shared with the physician, that such sharing happens within 72 hours of the telehealth visit.
Teladoc says the new law will greatly help Texans gain access to care. With just 71.4 primary care physicians per 100,000 people, Texas is ranked 46th among all the states for primary care physicians per capita.
"This telemedicine legislation should not only serve as the bellwether for all other states but should be another indication for the federal government of the proven value of remote care models," said Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic in a statement.
Earlier this week, witnesses at a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing called for expanded telemedicine coverage. Right now, Medicare reimburses telemedicine in rural areas only.