Texas Spurns Progress, Patients by Blocking Telemedicine

Fighting the growth of telehealth undermines efforts to increase medical care: NCPA

Source: NCPA

The Texas Medical Board is sacrificing patients’ easy access to medical care to protect established providers from competition by limiting the use of telemedicine in the state, according to a new report by National Center for Policy Analysis Research Associate Jennifer Vermeulen.

Facing a rapidly-growing population, the Texas Medical Board, instead of embracing an innovative technology that increases patient access to medical care, has taken a “strong stand against telemedicine,” says NCPA Senior Fellow Devon Herrick, who managed the report research. “The Texas Medical Board took deliberate steps to protect local providers from competition.”

Limiting telemedicine disproportionately harms poor and low-income families, who often cannot afford to travel for health care, as well as recipients of Medicare or Medicaid, who are already limited in their choice of physicians. 

  • The state’s growing population of 25 million is served by 18,000 primary care physicians. 
  • 95 of the state’s 254 counties have fewer than 10 doctors; 54 of those counties have fewer than 5 licensed physicians.
  • However, strong population growth has left nearly 13 percent of the state’s population medically underserved, meaning that an individual’s circumstances make it difficult to either access or afford health care services. 

The report notes that only three states were graded “F” by the American Telemedicine Association – Texas, Alabama and Arkansas.

“Worldwide, the use of telemedicine to treat patients is expected to grow to 7 million by 2018 -- up 20 fold from 2013 levels,” says Herrick. “With the population of Texas projected to double by 2050, limiting telemedicine patients and providers is a blow to the future of health care in Texas.”

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