Telemedicine Runs Into Crony Doctoring

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Telemedicine in many respects is a miracle. Now people in remote and just plain out of the way places can gain access to much higher quality health care via the interwebs than they could before. One can even have surgery remotely now. That’s right, the surgeon is in Seattle, you’re in Columbus, and a robot opens you up.

Though it is unlikely that the need for local physicians will go away anytime soon, this area of the economy should be as liberalized as possible. The potential for good is immense. The potential for unneeded human suffering due to red tape erected by crony interests is also immense.

(From The Wall Street Journal)

Yet while telemedicine can connect a patient in rural Idaho with top specialists in New York, it often runs into a brick wall at state lines. Instead of welcoming the benefits of telemedicine, state governments and entrenched interests use licensing laws to make it difficult for out-of-state experts to offer remote care…

…Existing state medical-licensing laws are supported by entrenched interests primarily concerned with protecting providers, not with fostering the competitive health-care market that consumers so desperately need. If they want to operate in multiple states, telemedicine providers must hold multiple licenses, pay licensing fees to each state medical board, and comply with changing rules and regulations in every state. In effect, these stifling regulations force many patients to settle for whatever doctors are licensed to practice in their state—which is why in-state physician groups often support them.

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