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Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Lawsuit Challenges New Jersey’s Out-of-State Telehealth Licensing Law

A. Vaidya
Originally posted 18 DEC 23

Here is an excerpt:

The lawsuit states that J.A. was diagnosed with pineoblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor, at 18 months old. His physicians referred him to MacDonald in Boston. The treatment enabled J.A. to beat his cancer. However, he must continue to undergo scans once a year for the rest of his life to monitor the cancer’s return.

New Jersey’s current telehealth licensing law requires patients seeking specialty care out of state to decide whether to incur the cost of traveling to meet with the specialist for initial or follow-up consultations.

“Without telemedicine, patients suffering from rare cancers and diseases like J.A. must either forego lifesaving treatment or suffer by traveling out of state every time an appointment with a national specialist like Dr. MacDonald is needed,” the suit states. “Many cannot bear the burdens of frequent travel.”

Without the option of telehealth, J.A. and his family would not have been able to consult with all the specialists they needed due to “financial and time constraints,” the lawsuit further states. Even more recently, telehealth enabled J.A. to consult with MacDonald when an anomaly appeared on one of his scans.

Maintaining multiple licenses in different states places an administrative and financial burden on physicians, especially for specialists like MacDonald and Gardner, “who have national practices and only occasionally consult with or treat patients from New Jersey,” the suit notes.

Thus, the lawsuit argues that the licensing law violates the Dormant Commerce Clause and Privileges and Immunities Clause, which prohibits states from enacting laws that excessively burden interstate commerce in relation to local benefits. It also violates the First Amendment, which prevents the government from restricting conversations between patients and their providers, and the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which bans the government from limiting the ability of parents to direct their children’s medical care.

“Plaintiffs, who are New Jersey citizens and out-of-state specialists with patients in New Jersey, seek to vindicate their constitutional rights — and ensure they can continue to provide and receive — lifesaving care,” the lawsuit states.