Texas Legislature Joins Telemedicine Discussion

Robert J. Fisher | 3.3.17

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Telemedicine regulation has been a hot topic in Texas for the past six years and it continues to generate discussion. Over the past year, ByrdAdatto has written several articles discussing the ongoing debate over telemedicine, including the court battle between the Texas Medical Board (“TMB”) and Dallas-based telemedicine giant, Teladoc.  Now, the 85th Texas Legislature, which is currently in session, appears to be wading into the fray.

A key point of contention in the telemedicine debate has been around the TMB’s regulation requiring an in-person examination before a video telemedicine consultation can occur. However, two weeks ago D Healthcare reported that a “thawing of tensions” between opposing sides of the issue has occurred. Additionally, Sen. Charles Schwertner was quoted on his desire to sponsor a bill removing the restriction and his expectation that a bill would be produced very soon.

Sen. Schwertner’s prediction came true yesterday, March 2, 2017, as Rep. Four Price filed House Bill No. 2697. Among the changes to the structure and definitions of various Texas codes involved in telemedicine, the bill would add section 111.005 to the Texas Occupations Code allowing a physician-patient relationship to be established through telemedicine without a previous in-person examination. Additionally, the bill proposes altering the areas of telemedicine that the TMB has express power to regulate.

It is still early in the process and there is no guarantee that this bill will become law, but it appears to indicate a desire by lawmakers to be involved in the telemedicine debate alongside the courts and agencies. We will have to stay tuned for further developments on the issue.

For more information on the D Healthcare article please click here.

To read House Bill No. 2697 please click here.