The Supreme Court’s recent decision in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission left states with a number of unanswered questions, including when a proposed regulation or discipline action would trigger a restraint of trade claim. In December 2015, the US District Court in Texas addressed that issue in Teladoc, Inc. v. Texas Medical Board. The Court faced the question of whether actions taken by the Texas Medical Board violated the antitrust laws.
The Texas court focused on two types of evidence – lower costs and additional benefits- to analyze whether the actions of the Texas Medical Board to exclude Teladoc from providing services in Texas would likely harm competition. The court did not require Teladoc to perform a detailed analysis of the actual impact of the Board’s actions on the market. The court issued an injunction on Teladoc showing that it offered lower prices and greater convenience, and that the Board’s actions would destroy a business model. Antitrust experts see the court’s ruling as an indication that courts are already beginning to follow the Supreme Court’s reasoning to encourage competition by making industry licensing boards more accountable for their actions. (See the Antitrust Attorney Blog)