(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), all utilization review agents shall meet the following minimum standards:
Terms Used In Alabama Code 27-3A-5. Standards for utilization review agents
- enrollee: An individual who has contracted for or who participates in coverage under an insurance policy, a health maintenance organization contract, a health service corporation contract, an employee welfare benefit plan, a hospital or medical services plan, or any other benefit program providing payment, reimbursement, or indemnification for health care costs for the individual or the eligible dependents of the individual. See Alabama Code 27-3A-3
- following: means next after. See Alabama Code 1-1-1
- provider: A health care provider duly licensed or certified by the State of Alabama. See Alabama Code 27-3A-3
- state: The word "state," when applied to the different parts of the United States, includes the District of Columbia and the several territories of the United States. See Alabama Code 1-1-1
- United States: includes the territories thereof and the District of Columbia. See Alabama Code 1-1-1
- utilization review: A system for prospective and concurrent review of the necessity and appropriateness in the allocation of health care resources and services given or proposed to be given to an individual within this state. See Alabama Code 27-3A-3
- utilization review agent: Any person or entity, including the State of Alabama, performing a utilization review, except the following:
a. See Alabama Code 27-3A-3
(1) Notification of a determination by the utilization review agent shall be mailed or otherwise communicated to the provider of record or the enrollee or other appropriate individual within two business days of the receipt of the request for determination and the receipt of all information necessary to complete the review.
(2) Any determination by a utilization review agent as to the necessity or appropriateness of an admission, service, or procedure shall be reviewed by a physician or determined in accordance with standards or guidelines approved by a physician.
(3) Any notification of determination not to certify an admission, service, or procedure shall include the principal reason for the determination and the procedures to initiate an appeal of the determination.
(4) Utilization review agents shall maintain and make available a written description of the appeal procedure by which the enrollee or the provider of record may seek review of a determination by the utilization review agent. The appeal procedure shall provide for the following:
a. On appeal, all determinations not to certify an admission, service, or procedure as being necessary or appropriate shall be made by a physician in the same or a similar general specialty as typically manages the medical condition, procedure, or treatment under discussion as mutually deemed appropriate. A chiropractor must review all cases in which the utilization review organization has concluded that a determination not to certify a chiropractic service or procedure is appropriate and an appeal has been made by the attending chiropractor, enrollee, or designee.
b. Utilization review agents shall complete the adjudication of appeals of determinations not to certify admissions, services, and procedures no later than 30 days from the date the appeal is filed and the receipt of all information necessary to complete the appeal.
c. When an initial determination not to certify a health care service is made prior to or during an ongoing service requiring review, and the attending physician believes that the determination warrants immediate appeal, the attending physician shall have an opportunity to appeal that determination over the telephone on an expedited basis. A representative of a hospital or other health care provider or a representative of the enrollee or covered patient may assist in an appeal. Utilization review agents shall complete the adjudication on an expedited basis. Utilization review agents shall complete the adjudication of expedited appeals within 48 hours of the date the appeal is filed and the receipt of all information necessary to complete the appeal. Expedited appeals that do not resolve a difference of opinion may be resubmitted through the standard appeal process.
(5) Utilization review agents shall make staff available by toll-free telephone at least 40 hours per week during normal business hours.
(6) Utilization review agents shall have a telephone system capable of accepting or recording incoming telephone calls during other than normal business hours and shall respond to these calls within two working days.
(7) Utilization review agents shall comply with all applicable laws to protect the confidentiality of individual medical records.
(8) Physicians, chiropractors, or psychologists making utilization review determinations shall have current licenses from a state licensing agency in the United States.
(9) Utilization review agents shall allow a minimum of 24 hours after an emergency admission, service, or procedure for an enrollee or representative of the enrollee to notify the utilization review agent and request certification or continuing treatment for that condition.
(b) Any utilization review agent that has received accreditation by the utilization review accreditation commission shall be exempt from this section.