Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 38.2. Insurance
Chapter 35.1. Health Carrier Internal Appeal Process and External Review
9/15/2019

§ 38.2-3561. Standard external review.

A. Within 120 days after the date of receipt of a notice of the right to an external review of a final adverse determination or an adverse determination if the internal appeal process has been deemed to be exhausted or waived, a covered person or his authorized representative may file a request for an external review in writing with the Commission. Within one business day after the date of receipt of a request for external review, the Commission shall send a copy of the request to the health carrier.

B. Within five business days following the date of receipt of the external review request from the Commission, the health carrier shall complete a preliminary review of the request to determine whether:

1. The individual is or was a covered person at the time the health care service was requested or, in the case of a retrospective review, was a covered person at the time the health care service was provided;

2. The health care service is a covered service, except as excluded for not meeting the health carrier's requirements for medical necessity, appropriateness, health care setting, level of care, or effectiveness;

3. The covered person has exhausted or is deemed to have exhausted the health carrier's internal appeal process, provided that a covered person's exhaustion of the health carrier's internal appeal process shall not be required if the adverse determination relates to the treatment of a cancer of the covered person; and

4. All the information and forms required to process the external review are complete.

C. Within one business day after completion of the preliminary review, the health carrier shall notify in writing the Commission, the covered person, and his authorized representative, if any, whether the request is complete and eligible for external review and, if ineligible, the reasons for ineligibility. If the request is not complete, the notice shall include what information or materials are needed to make the request complete. Such notice shall include a statement informing the covered person and his authorized representative, if any, that the health carrier's determination of ineligibility may be appealed to the Commission. If the health carrier makes an ineligibility determination, the Commission may determine that a request is eligible for external review and require that it be referred for external review. In making this determination, the Commission's decision shall be made in accordance with the terms of the covered person's health benefit plan and the requirements of subsection B.

D. Within one business day after the date of receipt of the notice described in subsection C, the Commission shall assign an independent review organization to conduct the external review and notify in writing the health carrier, the covered person, and his authorized representative, if any, of the request's eligibility and acceptance for external review and the name of the assigned independent review organization. The Commission shall include in such notice a statement that the covered person or his authorized representative may submit in writing to the assigned independent review organization, within five business days following the date of receipt, additional information that the independent review organization shall consider when conducting the external review.

E. Within five business days after the date of receipt of the notice from the Commission, the health carrier or its designee utilization review entity shall provide to the assigned independent review organization the documents and any information considered in making the adverse determination or final adverse determination. Failure by the health carrier or its utilization review entity to provide the documents and information within the time specified shall not delay the conduct of the external review. If the health carrier or its utilization review entity fails to provide the documents and information within the time specified, the assigned independent review organization may terminate the external review and make a decision to reverse the adverse determination or final adverse determination. Within one business day after making such decision, the independent review organization shall notify the covered person, his authorized representative, if any, the health carrier, and the Commission.

F. The assigned independent review organization shall review all of the information and documents timely received from the health carrier and any other information submitted in writing by the covered person or his authorized representative. The independent review organization is not required to, but may, accept and consider information submitted late from the covered person or his authorized representative, if any. Upon receipt of any information submitted by the covered person or his authorized representative, the assigned independent review organization shall within one business day forward the information to the health carrier.

G. Upon receipt of the information from the assigned independent review organization, the health carrier may reconsider its adverse determination or final adverse determination. Reconsideration by the health carrier of its adverse determination or final adverse determination shall not delay or terminate the external review. The external review may only be terminated if the health carrier decides to reverse its adverse determination or final adverse determination and provide coverage or payment for the health care service. Within one business day after making the decision to reverse its adverse determination or final adverse determination, the health carrier shall notify the covered person, his authorized representative, if any, the assigned independent review organization, and the Commission in writing of its decision. Upon receipt of the notice of the health carrier's decision to reverse its adverse determination or final adverse determination, the assigned independent review organization shall terminate the external review.

H. The assigned independent review organization, to the extent the information or documents are available and the independent review organization considers them appropriate, shall also consider the following in reaching a decision:

1. The covered person's medical records;

2. The attending health care professional's recommendation;

3. Consulting reports from appropriate health care professionals and other documents submitted by the health carrier, covered person, his authorized representative, or the covered person's treating provider;

4. The terms of coverage under the covered person's health benefit plan;

5. The most appropriate practice guidelines, which shall include applicable evidence-based standards and may include any other practice guidelines developed by the federal government or national or professional medical societies, boards, and associations;

6. Any applicable clinical review criteria developed and used by the health carrier or its designee utilization review entity; and

7. The opinion of the independent review organization's clinical reviewer or reviewers after considering the information or documents described in subdivisions 1 through 6 to the extent the information or documents are available and the clinical reviewer or reviewers consider appropriate.

In reaching a decision, the assigned independent review organization shall not be bound by any decisions or conclusions reached during the health carrier's utilization review process or the internal appeal process.

I. Within 45 days after the date of receipt of the request for an external review, the assigned independent review organization shall provide written notice of its decision to uphold or reverse the adverse determination or the final adverse determination to the covered person, his authorized representative, if any, the health carrier, and the Commission. The independent review organization shall include in such notice: a general description of the reason for the request for external review; the date the independent review organization received the assignment from the Commission to conduct the external review; the date the external review was conducted; the date of its decision; the principal reason or reasons for its decision, including what applicable, if any, evidence-based standards were a basis for its decision; the rationale for its decision; and references to the evidence or documentation, including evidence-based standards, considered in reaching its decision.

J. Upon receipt of a notice reversing the adverse determination or final adverse determination, the health carrier promptly shall approve the coverage.

2011, c. 788; 2019, cc. 826, 840.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.