FTC, DOJ back Teladoc in battle with the Texas Medical Board

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Teladoc is getting support from the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice in its lengthy battle with the Texas Medical Board (TMB) over the latter’s face-to-face appointment requirement before a physician can prescribe medications via telemedicine.

Teladoc says that such a requirement limits and hinders use of telemedicine services within the state.

Last December, TMB was denied a motion to dismiss Teladoc’s 2011 antitrust lawsuit--the board then appealed that decision in January.

In an amici curiae brief, filed in the Fifth Circuit Court, the FTC and DOJ call that appeal an attempt to “evade the substance of federal antitrust law," and add that, basically, the court doesn't have jurisdiction over the appeal. 

The brief goes on to say that if the court does feel it has a right to jurisdiction over the appeal, "it should hold that the state action doctrine does not shield the TMB’s rules from federal antitrust scrutiny because the TMB did not carry its burden to show active supervision."

"There is no evidence that any disinterested state official reviewed the TMB rules at issue to determine whether they promote state regulatory policy rather than TMB doctors’ private interests in excluding telehealth--and its lower prices--from the Texas market," the brief says.

In conclusion, DOJ and FTC say that the appeal should be dismissed "for lack of appellate jurisdiction."

The FTC has shown support for telemedicine before, backing a telemedicine provision presented in March as part of legislation working its way through the Alaska Senate.