Weight Loss Clinics

How to Start a Weight Loss Clinic in Texas

A medical weight loss clinic is a healthcare entity that specializes in providing personalized weight-loss and lifestyle management services to its clients. Recently, new prescription weight-loss drugs, like Wegovy®, Ozempic®, and Zepbound, have inspired renewed interest in offering weight loss services as a stand-alone clinic or as part of an already thriving practice.

Contact Hendershot Cowart P.C. today to get experienced legal guidance and assistance in setting up a weight loss clinic in Texas.

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As with any new healthcare practice, weight loss clinics or weight loss services must be structured carefully to maintain compliance with all applicable state and federal regulations. Texas’ Corporate Practice of Medicine doctrine, HIPAA, licensing issues, limits on prescribing and dispensing drugs, and the Anti-Kickback Statute must all be considered when setting up a compliant healthcare practice.

From licensing requirements to limits on prescribing and dispensing prescription drugs, the Hendershot Cowart P.C. legal team is here to help.

Who Can Own or Operate a Weight Loss Clinic in Texas?

Similar to an IV hydration therapy clinic, med spa, or ketamine clinic, any healthcare entity that provides medical treatment in Texas must be owned by a licensed physician. The strict limitations placed on who can own a medical weight loss clinic (and other types of clinics) are laid out by Texas’ Corporate Practice of Medicine prohibition and enforced by the Texas Medical Board and the civil courts.

Texas’s prohibition against the Corporate Practice of Medicine is designed to protect the doctor-patient relationship by ensuring that their physician’s advice is not influenced or controlled by non-physicians.

That said, nurses, physician assistants, and non-medical investors may still participate in the day-to-day operation of a weight-loss clinic; however, the organization must be carefully structured to comply with both state and federal regulations. Non-physicians may form a separate entity known as a management services organization (MSO), which then contracts with the physician’s practice to provide marketing, operations, and other management services to the medical practice.

What Is the Best Entity & Structure for a Weight Loss Clinic?

Physician-owned clinics are often set up as Professional Limited Liability Companies (PLLCs). Non-physicians interested in investing in weight-loss treatment services may do so through the formation of a management services organization (MSO), which is often set up as an LLC.

These two entities are then affiliated through a management services agreement that delineates the roles and responsibilities of each and ensures that compensation is consistent with both state and federal laws.

The healthcare attorneys at Hendershot Cowart P.C. are well versed in healthcare law and business formations, including the set-up of MSOs and management services agreements. Our team routinely works with physicians and non-physicians alike to confidently set up compliant healthcare enterprises.

Do You Need a Special License to Provide Weight Loss Management Services?

Only physicians licensed by the Texas Medical Board may practice medicine in Texas, and many weight-loss treatments fall under Texas’ definition of the practice of medicine.

Under Texas law, “practicing medicine” means “the diagnosis, treatment, or offer to treat a mental or physical disease or disorder or a physical deformity or injury by any system or method, or the attempt to effect cures of those conditions, by a person who: (a) publicly professes to be a physician or surgeon, or (b) directly or indirectly charges money or other compensation for those services.”

Is Weight Loss Management Considered the Practice of Medicine?

It depends on the treatment. Surgical weight loss treatments, such as liposuction, are, of course, considered the practice of medicine.

The prescribing of drugs for the treatment of obesity, overweight, and weight-related ailments also involve the practice of medicine. Only a licensed physician, or a physician assistant or advanced practice registered nurse acting under a physician’s supervision, may prescribe drugs for weight management.

Patients who seek out weight loss treatment may also seek out non-surgical elective “body shaping” procedures, such as body contouring or CoolSculpting. These procedures fall under Texas’ definition of a nonsurgical medical cosmetic procedure and are therefore considered the practice of medicine as well.

Who Can Administer Prescription Weight-Loss Treatments?

Only a licensed physician may prescribe prescription weight-management drugs, such as Wegovy®, Zepbound, and Ozempic®. Similarly, weight-loss treatments administered through a prescription medical device must be supervised by a licensed physician.

However, a licensed physician may not distribute or dispense drugs out of their medical practice. With only a few narrow exceptions to meet a patient’s “immediate needs” and to serve rural areas, prescription medicines must be dispensed by a licensed pharmacy in Texas.

Can Wegovy® Be Prescribed via Telemedicine?

Though a prescription drug, Wegovy® is not a controlled substance and, therefore, can be prescribed via telehealth. In Texas, telehealth prescribers must abide by the same standards and requirements applicable to in-person settings.

Learn more about prescribing and telemedicine laws in Texas.

How Our Weight Loss Clinic Attorneys Can Help

If you are considering opening or investing in a medical weight loss clinic in Texas, speak with an experienced healthcare attorney as your first step.

The attorneys at Hendershot Cowart P.C. have considerable experience working with healthcare providers and entrepreneurs on medical practice set-ups. We can help you decipher state and federal regulations and licensing requirements so you can start and manage your clinic with confidence. From regulatory compliance to structuring partnerships and drafting employment agreements, our Texas health law firm is your one-stop shop for help structuring a compliant, thriving weight loss clinic.

Please contact us online or call our Houston-based firm at (713) 909-7323 today to get started on your next venture today.

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