Teladoc moves to block Medical Board rule that would restrict health care access for millions of Texans
Company files antitrust case against Texas Medical Board and its membersAUSTIN (April 29, 2015) – Continuing a years-long struggle to preserve access to telehealth benefits for the people of Texas, Teladoc today filed an antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas against the Texas Medical Board and its members to prevent a new rule from taking effect that would restrict the practice of telehealth. Teladoc, the nation’s first and largest telehealth company, provides 24/7 access to affordable, high-quality medical care via phone or interactive video for people experiencing non-emergency medical issues such as sinus problems, bronchitis and poison ivy.
Teladoc’s case asserts that the medical board, charged with regulating medical practice in Texas, is in fact illegally limiting competition by requiring an in-person visit before physicians are allowed to treat patients. Texas physicians have treated patients with no prior in-person contact for decades.
“It is clear that the medical board acted only when Teladoc consultations became sufficiently numerous to be perceived as a competitive threat to brick-and-mortar physician practices,” said Jason Gorevic, Teladoc’s chief executive officer. Teladoc argues in its lawsuit that the medical board’s newly adopted rule violates the law, including the Sherman Antitrust Act, which has protected free-market business innovations from cartels and monopolies for more than 100 years.
“We can’t sit back and let a bad rule by the Texas Medical Board rob from millions of consumers and physicians the tremendous benefits of telehealth,” said Gorevic. “California, Colorado, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and dozens of other states have found solutions that embrace telehealth, and all of its benefits, while ensuring patient safety.” Human resources consultancy Towers Watson projects a 68 percent increase in the number of employers offering telehealth in 2015. In Texas alone, Teladoc serves more than 2.4 million members, a patient population that is growing rapidly at a time when the number of available primary care physicians is declining.
The new rule is scheduled to take effect in June. If enacted as written, the rule may have severe financial consequences for telehealth companies as well as patients, according to the Teladoc lawsuit. “The medical board asserts that the new rule is to address concerns about patient safety,” said Gorevic. “But not one shred of data was presented during the medical board’s comment period to support the position that telehealth poses a patient safety risk.”
The Teladoc lawsuit also notes that the Texas Medical Board ignored hundreds of officially filed comments from consumers, physicians, and businesses opposing the new rule and supporting both the efficacy and the safety of telehealth. Teladoc reports 95 percent customer satisfaction and 92 percent patient medical issue resolution. Teladoc physicians are board-certified, state-licensed and average 20 years of experience. Teladoc is certified by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and has operated in Texas for more than 10 years with a strong patient safety record devoid of even a single malpractice claim.
During the last four years, as the Texas Medical Board sought to limit access to health care in the state, Texas courts have ruled in favor of Teladoc on five separate occasions. “Our attention and commitment to safety, while delivering significant value, leaves us confident that the courts will again rule in favor of enhanced access to affordable, quality health care over the narrow concerns of a special interest intent on protecting itself to the detriment of patients,” said Gorevic.
Founded in 2002, Teladoc is the nation’s first and largest telehealth provider with 10 million members and is on track to conduct more than 500,000 consults during 2015. Teladoc provides 24/7 access to affordable, high-quality medical care for adults and children experiencing non-emergency medical issues via phone, secure online video, mobile app or web. Through a directly-managed network of U.S.-based, board-certified physicians, Teladoc delivers a 95 percent patient satisfaction rate with an average response time of less than 10 minutes. Teladoc is the first and only telehealth provider to receive certification from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for its physician credentialing process, scoring 100 percent. Recognized by Fast Company as “One of World’s Most Innovative Companies in Health Care” in 2013, Teladoc partners with health plans, corporations, organizations and patients seeking accessible and affordable high-quality medical care. For more information, please visit teladoc.com.