The Battle to Control Competition in Emerging Markets: Teledoc, Teeth Whitening, The Texas Medical Board, and the Cavalier Attitude of Licensing Boards Towards Limiting Affordable Options for Consumers
In an injunction issued by Judge Robert Pitman, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas held that Teladoc, the progressive healthcare platform connecting doctors to patients via remote means, succeeded in blocking the Texas Medical Board—for the time being. Teledoc, like the teeth whiteners of North Carolina, has taken on the Texas state licensing board in the dispute of the board’s illegally limiting competition. The Texas Medical Board, responsible for regulating medical practice in Texas, adopted revisions to Rule 190.8 on April 10 that Teladoc argues violates federal law as well as the Sherman Antitrust Act.
As with the teeth whitening debate, the Texas Medical Board claims their motivation is concern regarding patient safety. Though no evidence regarding harm to any patient was produced to support this position, the board rests soundly on the theory that allowing Teledoc to serve clients may prove harmful to the public. The penchant of state licensing boards to promote their extreme concern for public safety minus any supporting evidence whatsoever begs the question, “Who are they really protecting?” Such anxious filial oversight from Big Brother with no sign of actual harm—or even possible harm—highlights just how keenly state boards feel about the threats to competition toward their participants.
As technology develops and people demand the more affordable, convenient options that the evolution makes available, the default maneuver across many states is to deny those options on legal grounds, revise statutory language to allow for stamping out the perceived threat, and send a clear message to the public that the status quo will always favor the licensing board rather than permitting new technology to lower prices or open new venues of alternatives to traditional care.
And people are clearly getting the message. While the dentists and doctors may think that no one is watching, the public is paying close attention. They understand that the boards are not only comprised of market participants, but also guided by corporations and special interests that clearly hold their own interests above those of the state’s people. Vain attempts to limit access to affordable healthcare for non-emergency medical issues won’t go over any better than limiting access to teeth whitening did.
As technology makes inroads into affordability and options in public healthcare, one wonders how long it will be before the public’s patience is exhausted by having their options conveniently limited by self-interested state licensing boards. In this case, at least, Teledoc has the means to stand toe-to-toe with the state licensing board. But what about the next wave of emerging technology that threatens a state board? As was the case in North Carolina, where viable, small businesses were shut down left and right by the board’s cease and desist orders that were later deemed illegal by The United States Supreme Court, who will pay for the entrepreneurship that is crushed out by the next state licensing board’s “theory of harm” that can’t be either proven or disproven? It seems as if there should be some measure in that gray arena of “oversight” that calls for actual proof—or at the very least, thorough research and investigation—before shutting down a viable and profitable business simply because it competes with the board’s participants.
While the expanding markets continue to offer new opportunities and a savvy public demand options, the status quo will not hold for long. Technology will continue to develop, and with it, people will demand further improvement in their access to care and choices in how that care is obtained. Yet, the state licensing boards hold onto the tired language of statutes that are quickly becoming outdated with the same tedious clutching that accompanied the use of email to replace snail mail. The insistent drum of technology as it marches on will proves what a fool’s exercise that is. With Parker immunity contingent upon measures that are not yet in place for many licensing boards across the country, Texas included, the more reasonable question is, “Who will pay for the damages?” Teledoc made clear that treble damages in the face of its scheduled IPO would run into the tens of millions.
However, companies like Teledoc are not the only ones on the front lines of this critical shift in consumer advocacy. Brighter Image has been working for decades in the fight to bring clients the very best in affordable teeth whitening as well as state-of-the-art removable smile makeovers. Find out how Press On Veneers has leveraged technology to create a new smile enhancement that challenges the status quo and allows consumers to have a choice when it comes to changing the appearance of their smile. Before you pay thousands for dental veneers or a Snap On Smile, call and speak with Laurie Hall today about the options available with Press On Veneer removable veneers.