§ 9.702. Complaints and grievances.

 (a)  General

   (1)  A plan shall have a two-level complaint procedure and a two-level grievance procedure which meets the requirements of sections 2141, 2142, 2161 and 2162 of the act (40 P. S. § §  991.2141, 991.2142, 991.2161 and 991.2162) and this subchapter.

   (2)  The plan may not incorporate administrative requirements, time frames or tactics to directly or indirectly discourage the enrollee or health care provider from, or disadvantage the enrollee or health care provider in utilizing the procedures. The following apply if the enrollee or health care provider believes the plan is violating this paragraph:

     (i)   An enrollee or a health care provider may contact the Department to complain that a plan’s administrative procedures or time frames are being applied to discourage or disadvantage the enrollee or health care provider in utilizing the procedures.

     (ii)   The Department will investigate the allegations, and take action it deems necessary and appropriate under Act 68.

     (iii)   Referral of the allegations to the Department will not operate to delay the processing of the complaint or grievance review.

   (3)  At any time during the complaint or grievance process, an enrollee may choose to designate a representative to participate in the complaint or grievance process on the enrollee’s behalf. The enrollee or the enrollee’s representative shall notify the plan of the designation.

   (4)  The plan shall make a plan employee available to assist the enrollee or the enrollee’s representative at no charge in preparing the complaint or grievance if a request for assistance is made by the enrollee or the representative at any time during the complaint or grievance process. The plan employee made available by the plan may not have participated in any plan decision with regard to the complaint or grievance.

   (5)  As part of its complaint and grievance process, a plan shall have a toll-free telephone number for an enrollee to use to obtain information regarding the filing and status of a complaint or grievance. The plan shall make reasonable accomodations to enable enrollees with disabilities and non-English speaking enrollees to secure the information.

   (6)  A plan shall provide copies of its complaint and grievance procedures to the Department for review and approval under §  9.710 (relating to approval of plan enrollee complaint and enrollee and provider grievance systems). The Department will use the procedures as a reference when assisting enrollees who contact the Department directly.

 (b)  Correction of plan. A plan shall immediately correct any procedure found by the Department to be noncompliant with the act or this chapter.

 (c)  Complaints versus grievances.

   (1)  The plan may not classify the request for an internal review as either a complaint or a grievance with the intent to adversely affect or deny the enrollee’s access to the procedure.

   (2)  If the plan has a question as to whether the request for an internal review is a complaint or a grievance, the plan shall consult with the Department or the Insurance Department as to the most appropriate classification. The decision shall be final and binding.

   (3)  An enrollee may contact the Department or the Insurance Department directly for consideration and intervention with the plan, if the enrollee disagrees with the plan’s classification of a request for an internal review.

   (4)  If the Department determines that a grievance has been improperly classified as a complaint, the Department will notify the plan and the enrollee and the case will be redirected to the appropriate level of grievance review. Filing fees shall be waived by the plan.

   (5)  If the Department determines that a complaint has been improperly classified as a grievance, the Department will notify the plan and the enrollee, and the case will be redirected to the appropriate level of complaint review. If the Department determines that a complaint has been improperly classified as a grievance prior to the external review, the filing fee shall be refunded.

   (6)  The Department will monitor plan reporting of complaints and grievances and may conduct audits and surveys to verify compliance with Article XXI and this subchapter.

 (d)  Time frames.

   (1)  If a plan establishes time frames for the filing of complaints and grievances, it shall allow an enrollee at least 45 days to file a complaint or grievance from the date of the occurrence of the issue being complained about, or the date of the enrollee’s receipt of notice of the plan’s decision.

   (2)  A health care provider seeking to file a grievance with enrollee consent under §  9.706 (relating to health care provider initiated grievances) shall have the same time frames in which to file as an enrollee.

Cross References

   This section cited in 28 Pa. Code §  9.703 (relating to internal complaint process); 28 Pa. Code §  9.705 (relating to internal grievance process); and 28 Pa. Code §  9.724 (relating to plan-IDS contracts).



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