Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 32.1. Health
Chapter 4. Health Care Planning
12/7/2022

Article 4.1. Health Planning and Resources Development.

§ 32.1-122.01. Definitions.

As used in this article unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Board" means the State Board of Health.

"Commissioner" means the State Health Commissioner.

"Consumer" means a person who is not a provider of health care services.

"Department" means the Virginia Department of Health.

"Health planning region" means a contiguous geographical area of the Commonwealth with a population base of at least 500,000 persons, which is characterized by the availability of multiple levels of medical care services, reasonable travel time for tertiary care, and congruence with planning districts.

"Provider" means a licensed or certified health care practitioner, a licensed health care facility or service administrator, or an individual who has a personal interest in a health care facility or service as defined in the Virginia Conflict of Interests Act (§ 2.2-3100 et seq.).

"Regional health planning agency" means the regional agency, including the regional health planning board, its staff and any component thereof, designated by the Board to perform the health planning activities set forth in this chapter within a health planning region.

"Regional health planning board" means the governing board of the regional health planning agency as described in § 32.1-122.05.

"Secretary" means the Secretary of Health and Human Resources of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

"State Health Plan" means the document so designated by the Board, which may include analysis of priority health issues, policies, needs, methodologies for assessing statewide health care needs, and such other matters as the Board shall deem appropriate.

"Tertiary care" means health care delivered by facilities that provide specialty acute care including, but not limited to, trauma care, neonatal intensive care and cardiac services.

1989, cc. 617, 633; 2002, c. 83.

§ 32.1-122.02. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2002, c. 83.

§ 32.1-122.03. State Health Plan.

A. The Board may develop, and revise as it deems necessary, the State Health Plan with the support of the Department and the assistance of the regional health planning agencies. Following review and comment by interested parties, including appropriate state agencies, the Board may develop and approve the State Health Plan. The State Health Plan shall be developed in accordance with components and methodologies that take into account special needs or circumstances of local areas. The Plan shall reflect data and analyses provided by the regional health planning agencies and include regional differences where appropriate. The Board, in preparation of the State Health Plan and to avoid unnecessary duplication, may consider and utilize all relevant and formally adopted plans of agencies, councils, and boards of the Commonwealth.

B. In order to develop and approve the State Health Plan, the Board may conduct such studies as may be necessary of critical health issues as identified by the Governor, General Assembly, Secretary or by the Board. Such studies may include, but not be limited to: (i) collection of data and statistics; (ii) analyses of information with subsequent recommendations for policy development, decision making and implementation; and (iii) analyses and evaluation of alternative health planning proposals and initiatives.

1989, cc. 617, 633; 2002, c. 83.

§ 32.1-122.03:1. Statewide Telehealth Plan.

A. As used in this section:

"Remote patient monitoring services" has the same meaning as in § 38.2-3418.16.

"Telehealth services" means the use of telecommunications and information technology to provide access to health assessments, diagnosis, intervention, consultation, supervision, and information across distance. "Telehealth services" includes the use of such technologies as telephones, facsimile machines, electronic mail systems, store-and-forward technologies, and remote patient monitoring devices that are used to collect and transmit patient data for monitoring and interpretation. Nothing in this definition shall be construed or interpreted to amend the appropriate establishment of a bona fide practitioner-patient relationship, as defined in § 54.1-3303.

"Telemedicine services" has the same meaning as in § 38.2-3418.16.

B. The Board shall amend and maintain, in consultation with the Virginia Telehealth Network, as a component of the State Health Plan a Statewide Telehealth Plan to promote an integrated approach to the introduction and use of telehealth services and telemedicine services. The Board shall contract with the Virginia Telehealth Network, or another Virginia-based nongovernmental, nonprofit organization focused on telehealth if the Virginia Telehealth Network is no longer in existence, to (i) provide direct consultation to any advisory groups and groups tasked by the Board with implementation and data collection as required by this section, (ii) track implementation of the Statewide Telehealth Plan, and (iii) facilitate changes to the Statewide Telehealth Plan as accepted medical practices and technologies evolve.

C. The Statewide Telehealth Plan shall include but not be limited to provisions for:

1. The promotion of the inclusion of telehealth services and telemedicine services in the operating procedures of hospitals, primary care facilities, public primary and secondary schools, state-funded post-secondary schools, emergency medical services agencies, and such other state agencies and practices deemed necessary by the Board;

2. The promotion of the use of remote patient monitoring services and store-and-forward technologies, including in cases involving patients with chronic illness;

3. A uniform and integrated set of proposed criteria for the use of telehealth technologies for prehospital and interhospital triage and transportation of patients initiating or in need of emergency medical services developed by the Board in consultation with the Department of Health Professions, the Virginia College of Emergency Physicians, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, the Virginia Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, the American Stroke Association, the American Telemedicine Association, and prehospital care providers. The Board may revise such criteria from time to time to incorporate accepted changes in medical practice and appropriate use of new and effective innovations in telehealth or telemedicine technologies, or to respond to needs indicated by analysis of data on patient outcomes. Such criteria shall be used as a guide and resource for health care providers and are not intended to establish, in and of themselves, standards of care or to abrogate the requirements of § 8.01-581.20. A decision by a health care provider to deviate from the criteria shall not constitute negligence per se;

4. A strategy for integration of the Statewide Telehealth Plan with the State Health Plan, the Statewide Emergency Medical Services Plan, the Statewide Trauma Triage Plan, and the Stroke Triage Plan to support the purposes of each plan;

5. A strategy for the maintenance of the Statewide Telehealth Plan through (i) the development of an innovative payment model for emergency medical services that covers the transportation of a patient to a destination providing services of appropriate patient acuity and facilitates in-place treatment of a patient at the scene of an emergency response or via telehealth services and telemedicine services, where appropriate; (ii) the development of collaborative and uniform operating procedures for establishing and recording informed patient consent for the use of telehealth services and telemedicine services that are easily accessible by those medical professionals engaging in telehealth services and telemedicine services; and (iii) appropriate liability protection for providers involved in such telehealth and telemedicine consultation and treatment; and

6. A strategy for the collection of data regarding the use of telehealth services and telemedicine services in the delivery of inpatient and outpatient services, treatment of chronic illnesses, remote patient monitoring, and emergency medical services to determine the effect of use of telehealth services and telemedicine services on the medical service system in the Commonwealth, including (i) the potential for reducing unnecessary inpatient hospital stays, particularly among patients with chronic illnesses or conditions; (ii) the impact of the use of telehealth services and telemedicine services on patient morbidity, mortality, and quality of life; (iii) the potential for reducing unnecessary prehospital and interhospital transfers; and (iv) the impact on annual expenditures for health care services for all payers, including expenditures by third-party payers and out-of-pocket expenditures by patients.

2020, c. 729; 2022, cc. 724, 742.

§ 32.1-122.04. Responsibilities of the Department.

The Department shall have the following responsibilities as directed by the Board:

1. To conduct the research for the health planning activities of the Commonwealth.

2. To prepare, review and revise the State Health Plan when so directed by the Board.

3. To develop, under the direction of the Board and with the cooperation of the regional health planning agencies, the components and methodology for the State Health Plan, including any research, issue analyses and related reports.

4. To provide technical assistance to the regional health planning agencies.

5. To perform such other functions relating to health planning in the Commonwealth as may be requested by the Governor or the Secretary.

1989, cc. 617, 633; 2002, c. 83.

§ 32.1-122.05. Regional health planning agencies; boards; duties and responsibilities.

A. For the purpose of representing the interests of health planning regions and performing health planning activities at the regional level, there are hereby created such regional health planning agencies as may be designated by the Board of Health.

B. Each regional health planning agency shall be governed by a regional health planning board to be composed of not more than thirty residents of the region. The membership of the regional health planning boards shall include, but not be limited to, consumers, providers, a director of a local health department, a director of a local department of social services or welfare, a director of a community services board, a director of an area agency on aging and representatives of health care insurers, local governments, the business community and the academic community. The majority of the members of each regional health planning board shall be consumers. Consumer members shall be appointed in a manner that ensures the equitable geographic and demographic representation of the region. Provider members shall be solicited from professional organizations, service and educational institutions and associations of service providers and health care insurers in a manner that assures equitable representation of provider interest.

The members of the regional health planning boards shall be appointed for no more than two consecutive terms of four years or, when appointed to fill an unexpired term of less than four years, for three consecutive terms consisting of one term of less than four years and two terms of four years. The boards shall not be self-perpetuating. The Board of Health shall establish procedures requiring staggered terms. The composition and the method of appointment of the regional health planning boards shall be established in the regulations of the Board of Health. In addition, the Board of Health shall require, pursuant to regulations, each regional health planning board to report and maintain a record of its membership, including, but not limited to, the names, addresses, dates of appointment, years served, number of consecutive and nonconsecutive terms, and the group represented by each member. These membership reports and records shall be public information and shall be published in accordance with the regulations of the Board.

C. An agreement shall be executed between the Commissioner, in consultation with the Board of Health, and each regional health planning board to delineate the work plan and products to be developed with state funds. Funding for the regional health planning agencies shall be contingent upon meeting these obligations and complying with the Board's regulations.

D. Each regional health planning agency shall assist the Board of Health by: (i) conducting data collection, research and analyses as required by the Board; (ii) preparing reports and studies in consultation and cooperation with the Board; (iii) reviewing and commenting on the components of the State Health Plan; (iv) conducting needs assessments as appropriate and serving as a technical resource to the Board; (v) identifying gaps in services, inappropriate use of services or resources and assessing accessibility of critical services; (vi) reviewing applications for certificates of public need and making recommendations to the Department thereon as provided in § 32.1-102.6; and (vii) conducting such other functions as directed by the regional health planning board. All regional health planning agencies shall demonstrate and document accountability for state funds through annual budget projections and quarterly expenditure and activity reports that shall be submitted to the Commissioner. A regional health planning agency may designate membership and activities at subarea levels as deemed appropriate by its regional health planning board. Each regional health planning board shall adopt bylaws for its operation and for the election of its chairman and shall maintain and publish a record of its membership and any subarea levels as required by this section and the regulations of the Board of Health.

1989, cc. 617, 633; 2002, cc. 83, 398.

§ 32.1-122.06. Funds for regional health planning.

In the interest of maintaining a regional health planning mechanism in the Commonwealth, there is hereby established funding for regional health planning. From such moneys as may be available and appropriated, this fund shall provide support of a maximum of fifteen cents per capita for each regional health planning agency as may be designated. Per capita population figures shall be obtained from official population estimates. This funding may be used for the administration of the regional health planning agency, the analysis of issues, and such other health planning purposes as may be requested.

Any local governing body may choose to appropriate funds for the purpose of providing additional funds for a regional health planning agency. However, nothing in this section shall place any obligation on any local governing body to appropriate funds to any regional health planning agency.

Each regional health planning agency shall be required to apply to the Department for funding, which shall be distributed as grants. This funding shall be administered by the Department, and the Board shall promulgate regulations as are necessary and relevant to administer the funding. All applications for such funding shall be accompanied by letters of assurance that the applicant shall comply with all state requirements.

For purposes of this section, regional health planning agencies in existence as of July 1, 2002, shall be retained as designated regional health planning agencies unless (i) the Board, pursuant to its regulations, revises such designations, or (ii) any individual regional health planning agency ceases operation or the designation as a regional health planning agency is otherwise terminated in accordance with the agreement between the regional health planning agency and the Board.

The extent to which grants are awarded from this fund shall be dependent upon the amount of money appropriated to implement the provisions of this section.

1989, cc. 617, 633; 1990, c. 391; 2002, c. 83; 2009, c. 175.

§ 32.1-122.07. Authority of Commissioner for certain health planning activities; rural health plan; designation as a rural hospital.

A. The Commissioner, with the approval of the Board, is authorized to make application for federal funding and to receive and expend such funds in accordance with state and federal regulations.

B. The Commissioner shall administer section 1122 of the United States Social Security Act if the Commonwealth has made an agreement with the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services pursuant to such section.

C. In compliance with the provisions of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, P.L. 105-33, and any amendments to such provisions, the Commissioner shall submit to the appropriate regional administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) an application to establish a Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program in Virginia.

D. The Commissioner shall develop and the Board of Health shall approve a rural health care plan for the Commonwealth to be included with the application to establish a Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program. In cooperation and consultation with the Virginia Hospital and Health Care Association, the Medical Society of Virginia, representatives of rural hospitals, and experts within the Department of Health on rural health programs, the plan shall be developed and revised as necessary or as required by the provisions of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, P.L. 105-33, and any amendments to such provisions. In the development of the plan, the Commissioner may also seek the assistance of the regional health planning agencies. The plan shall verify that the Commonwealth is in the process of designating facilities located in Virginia as critical access hospitals, shall note that the Commonwealth wishes to certify facilities as "necessary providers" of health care in rural areas, and shall describe the process, methodology, and eligibility criteria to be used for such designations or certifications. Virginia's rural health care plan shall reflect local needs and resources and shall, at minimum, include, but need not be limited to, a mechanism for creating one or more rural health networks, ways to encourage rural health service regionalization, and initiatives to improve access to health services, including hospital services, for rural Virginians.

E. Notwithstanding any provisions of this chapter or the Board's regulations to the contrary, the Commissioner shall, in the rural health care plan, (i) use as minimum standards for critical access hospitals, the certification regulations for critical access hospitals promulgated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) pursuant to Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, as amended; and (ii) authorize critical access hospitals to utilize a maximum of ten beds among their inpatient hospital beds as swing beds for the furnishing of services of the type which, if furnished by a nursing home or certified nursing facility, would constitute skilled care services without complying with nursing home licensure requirements or retaining the services of a licensed nursing home administrator. Such hospital shall include, within its plan of care, assurances for the overall well-being of patients occupying such beds.

F. Nothing herein or set forth in Virginia's rural health care plan shall prohibit any hospital designated as a critical access hospital from leasing the unused portion of its facilities to other health care organizations or reorganizing its corporate structure to facilitate the continuation of the nursing home beds that were licensed to such hospital prior to the designation as a critical access hospital. The health care services delivered by such other health care organizations shall not be construed as part of the critical access hospital's services or license to operate.

G. Any medical care facility licensed as a hospital shall be considered a rural hospital on and after September 30, 2004, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1395ww (d)(8)(E)(ii)(II), if (i) the hospital is located in an area defined as rural by federal statute or regulation; (ii) the Board of Health defines, in regulation, the area in which the hospital is located as a rural health area or the hospital as a rural hospital; or (iii) the hospital was designated, prior to October 1, 2004, as a Medicare-dependent small rural health hospital, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 1395ww (d)(5)(G)(iv).

1989, cc. 617, 633; 2000, c. 903; 2002, c. 83; 2006, c. 378.

§ 32.1-122.08. Continuation of regulations.

Regulations promulgated by the Virginia Health Planning Board prior to July 1, 2002, concerning health planning and resources development shall remain in force and effect until any such regulation is amended, modified, or repealed by the Board.

1989, cc. 617, 633; 2002, c. 83.