§ 9.707. External grievance process.

 (a)  The plan shall establish and maintain an external grievance process by which an enrollee, or a health care provider with the written consent of the enrollee, may request an external review of a denial of a second level grievance following receipt of the second level grievance review decision.

 (b)  The external grievance process shall adhere to the following standards:

   (1)  An enrollee, the enrollee’s representative or the health care provider who filed the grievance shall have 15 days from receipt of the second level grievance review decision to file a request for an external review with the plan. If the request for an external grievance is being filed by a health care provider, the health care provider shall provide the name of the enrollee involved and a copy of the enrollee’s written consent for the health care provider to file the grievance.

   (2)  Within 5 business days of receiving the external grievance from the enrollee or a health care provider filing a grievance with enrollee consent, the plan shall notify the Department, the enrollee and the health care provider if the health care provider has filed the grievance with enrollee consent, and a CRE that conducted the internal grievance review that a request for an external grievance review has been filed.

   (3)  The plan’s notification to the Department shall include a request for assignment of a CRE.

   (4)  Along with notification and the request for assignment of a CRE, and the information in paragraph (5), the plan shall provide the Department with the name, title and phone numbers of both a primary and alternative external grievance coordinator. One of these individuals shall be available to the Department so that expeditious communication may be had regarding the assignment of a CRE both for the purpose of performing external grievance reviews and of tracking the status of such reviews.

   (5)  The plan’s request to the Department for assignment of a CRE shall include the following:

     (i)   The enrollee’s name, address and telephone number.

     (ii)   If the request for an external grievance is being filed by a health care provider, identifying information for that provider, and a copy of the enrollee’s written consent to the health care provider to file the grievance.

     (iii)   The name of the plan.

     (iv)   The enrollee’s plan identification number.

     (v)   The enrollee’s appeal from the second level grievance review decision.

     (vi)   A copy of the decision of the second level review committee.

     (vii)   Correspondence from the plan relating to the matter in question.

     (viii)   Other reasonably necessary supporting documentation, which may include UR criteria, technology assessments, care notes, information submitted by clinicians regarding the enrollee’s health status as it relates to the matter being reviewed, opinions from specialists in a same or similar specialty or peer reviewers and information submitted by the enrollee, the enrollee’s representative and the treating health care providers.

     (ix)   If the external grievance is being requested by a health care provider, verification that the plan and the health care provider have both established escrow accounts in the amount of half the anticipated cost of the review.

   (6)  Within 15 days of receipt of the request for an external grievance review, the plan shall forward to the CRE assigned to perform the external grievance review the written documentation regarding the denial, including the following:

     (i)   The decision.

     (ii)   All reasonably necessary supporting information.

     (iii)   A summary of applicable issues.

     (iv)   The contractual language supporting the denial including the plan’s definition of ‘‘medical necessity’’ used in the internal grievance reviews.

   (7)  Within the same 15-day period as provided by paragraph (6), the plan shall provide the enrollee, the enrollee’s representative, or the health care provider if the health care provider filed the grievance with consent, with the list of documents being forwarded to the CRE for the external review.

   (8)  The enrollee, the enrollee’s representative, or the health care provider if the health care provider filed the grievance with enrollee consent, within 15 days of receipt of notice that the request for an external grievance review was filed with the plan, may supply additional information to the CRE for consideration in the external review but shall simultaneously provide copies of the information to the plan so that the plan has an opportunity to consider the additional information.

 (c)  Within 2-business days of receiving a request for an external grievance review, the Department will assign a CRE from its list of approved CREs on a rotation basis and will provide notice of the CRE assignment to the plan, the enrollee and the enrollee’s representative, the health care provider, if the grievance was filed with enrollee consent, and the CRE.

 (d)  The Department will make available additional information from the CRE’s accreditation application to the plan, the enrollee and the enrollee’s representative, or the health care provider that filed a grievance with enrollee consent upon request. The Department will include in the notice issued under subsection (c), instructions on how to contact the Department for this information.

 (e)  If the Department fails to select a CRE within 2 business days of receipt of a request for an external grievance review, the plan may designate a CRE to conduct a review from the list of CREs approved by the Department. The plan may not select a CRE that has a current contract or is negotiating a contract with the plan or its affiliates to perform UR, or is otherwise affiliated with the plan or its affiliates to conduct the external grievance review.

 (f)  Each party has 7 business days from the date on the notice of assignment of the CRE to object orally or in writing to the Department about the CRE assigned whether the CRE has been assigned by the Department, or designated by the plan under subsection (e) based on conflict of interest. For purposes of this section, conflict of interest shall mean that the CRE has or is proposing to enter into a contract with the plan or an affiliate of the plan to perform UR, or is otherwise affiliated with the plan or its affiliates. The objecting party may request the assignment of another CRE.

 (g)  If a party objects, the Department will assign a second CRE in accordance with subsection (c). The parties may object to the second CRE in accordance with this section.

 (h)  If either party objects to the second CRE assigned, the 60-day time period allowed for the CRE’s review under §  9.708(a) (relating to external grievance reviews by CREs) will be calculated from the date on which the CRE is accepted by both parties.

 (i)  The Department will assign a uniform tracking number, which shall be utilized by the plan, CRE, enrollee and the enrollee’s representative, and health care provider who filed the grievance with enrollee consent to communicate with or report data to the Department.

 (j)  The plan shall authorize a health care service and pay a claim determined to be medically necessary and appropriate by the CRE whether or not the plan has appealed the CRE’s decision to a court of competent jurisdiction.

 (k)  If the CRE’s decision in an external grievance review filed by a health care provider is against the health care provider in full, the health care provider shall pay the fees and costs associated with the external grievance. Regardless of the identity of the grievant, if the CRE’s decision is against the plan in full or in part, the plan shall pay the fees and costs associated with the external grievance review. If the enrollee or the enrollee’s representative files an external grievance, and the plan prevails, the plan shall pay the fees and costs. For purposes of this section, fees and costs do not include attorney’s fees.

Cross References

   This section cited in Pa. Code §  9.705 (relating to internal grievance process); 28 Pa. Code §  9.708 (relating to external grievance reviews by CREs); 28 Pa. Code §  9.753 (relating to time frames for UR).



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