Stay in Teladoc-Texas Medical Board case could presage a settlement

By Jonah Comstock

Teladoc and the Texas Medical Board have asked for, and received, a stay in their ongoing lawsuit. The case will resume in Western Texas District Court on April 19, 2017.

The case, which concerns whether anti-telemedicine regulations levvied by the board constitute a violation of antitrust laws, was set to resume after the board withdrew an appeal to the Fifth Circuit court. But both parties filed a joint motion saying that "the Parties believe that it would be most efficient and cost effective to stay this proceeding for 150 days".

Texas Medical Board didn't reply to a request for comment. But Teladoc told in an email that "requesting the stay signals a willingness to discuss settlement."

"Teladoc has always wanted to settle its disputes with the TMB in a way that preserves quality and affordable health care for all Texans, including our 3 million members in Texas," the company said in a statement.

Teladoc, which offers remote medical visits, , alleging that because the board was made up of practicing doctors with a financial interest in limiting telemedicine, the board's passing of anti-telemedicine legislation constituted a violation of antitrust laws. But the medical board filed a motion  on the grounds that there is, in fact, state supervision of the medical board which would make it a state agency under law and therefore immune to suit. When the judge , the medical board appealed to the Fifth Circuit court. 

The Fifth Circuit court never ruled on the appeal, but a glut of friend-of-the-court briefs rolled in to the higher court, including one from the FTC itself in support of Teladoc. Those briefs prompted a "strategic retreat" from the Texas Medical Board, which withdrew the appeal. In the year and a half that the case has been going on, it's worth noting that  and state-level legislation has been proposed that could undercut the board's rules anyway, both signs that TMB might also consider a settlement at this point.

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