Texas governor signs bill to expand telehealth services, ending a long-running holdout

telemedicine
Texas became the last holdout to expand telehealth services after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill over the weekend. (Philips)

The last telehealth holdout is finally catching up with the rest of the country.

Over the weekend, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1107, which allows physicians to use videoconferencing to see patients without a prior in-person interaction. The new law provides a new opportunity for several telemedicine providers who pushed for the bill’s passage.

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“Nowhere has telemedicine been more thoroughly examined and debated by all stakeholders than in Texas,” Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic said in a statement shortly after the bill cleared the Senate. “With the proven benefits that telemedicine has already demonstrated, and the rapidly expanding impact of virtual care, 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, benefiting patients across the country and the U.S. healthcare system as a whole.”

The new law follows years of legal battles between Teledoc and the Texas Medical Board that required telemedicine physicians to establish face-to-face interactions in 2015.

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Texas State Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, told the Dallas News that a key portion of the legislation clearly defines telemedicine as a covered service, and expects it will be particularly useful for patients in rural areas of the state.

“There's so much need for telemedicine in Texas,” W. Stephen Love, CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council told Dallas News. “This is clearly a step in the right direction.”