Sacramento; May 16, 2024: Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) filed a federal lawsuit today challenging unconstitutional limits on telehealth that prevent California patients from accessing specialty care that local doctors are not able to provide. 

“Limiting access to medical specialists benefits no one,” said Caleb Trotter, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “There is no excuse for Californians — or anyone — to suffer simply because a member of their care team is in another state.” Shellye Horowitz has hemophilia A, an extremely rare bleeding disorder, and all medical treatment she receives must involve a hemophilia specialist. Her small town doesn’t have the specialists to treat her condition, so she consults a renowned Oregon hemophilia center. 

California mandates that physicians who engage in telehealth with California patients be licensed in California. As a result, Shellye’s Oregon caregivers can no longer offer her consultation and follow-up. She must choose between 14-hour drives to Oregon or simply going without her life-changing care. 

The restrictions also affect out-of-state medical specialists whose care is critical to their patients in California. This includes Dr. Sean McBride, a respected radiation oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He uses telehealth to consult with his out-of-state patients, and to discuss whether they should travel to New York for advanced in-person treatments. He also uses telehealth to follow up with his patients upon their return home after treatment.  

Dr. McBride, licensed in New York but not California, and board-certified, is now barred from providing crucial telehealth consultations. Violating California’s telehealth restriction is punishable by criminal charges and hefty fines and could put his medical license at risk. 

Represented by Pacific Legal Foundation free of charge, Shellye and Dr. McBride are challenging California’s licensing law that threatens patients’ access to necessary, specialized medical care and rights of qualified specialists to treat them. 

The case is McBride v. Hawkins filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. 


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About Pacific Legal Foundation

Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit law firm that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 18 wins of 20 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.

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