(1) Information for review.
(a) IROs shall, as necessary, request, accept, and consider the following information as relevant to a case:
(i) Information that the carrier is required to submit to the IRO under WAC 284-43A-140
, including information identified in that section that is initially missing or incomplete as submitted by the carrier.
(ii) Other medical, scientific, and cost-effectiveness evidence which is relevant to the case. For the purposes of this section, medical, scientific, and cost-effectiveness evidence has the meaning defined in WAC 284-43A-010
(b) After referral of a case, an IRO shall accept additional information from the enrollee, the carrier, or a provider acting on behalf of the enrollee or at the enrollee's request, provided the information is submitted within five business days of the referral or, in the case of an expedited referral, within twenty-four hours. The additional information must be related to the case and relevant to statutory criteria.
(c) The IRO shall forward this information to the carrier within one business day of receipt of the information.
(2) Completion of reviews. Once the commissioner or designee refers a review, the IRO shall proceed to final determination unless requested otherwise by both the carrier and the enrollee or the carrier notifies the IRO it has reversed its adverse benefit determination.
(3) Time frames for reviews.
(a) An IRO shall make its determination within the following time limits:
(i) If the review is not expedited, within fifteen days after receiving necessary information, or within twenty days after receiving the referral, whichever is earlier. In exceptional circumstances where information is incomplete, the determination may be delayed until no later than twenty-five days after receiving the referral.
(ii) If the review is expedited, as defined in WAC 284-43-3170
, within seventy-two hours after receiving the referral. If information on whether a referral is expedited is not provided to the IRO, the IRO may presume that it is not an expedited review, but the IRO has the option to seek clarification from the commissioner or designee.
(b) An IRO shall provide notice to enrollees and the carrier of the result and basis for the determination, consistent with subsection (5) of this section, within two business days of making a determination in regular cases and immediately in expedited cases.
(c) As used in this subsection, a day is a calendar day, except that if the period ends on a weekend or an official Washington state holiday, the time limit is extended to the next business day. A business day is any day other than Saturday, Sunday or an official Washington state holiday.
(4) Decision-making procedures.
(a) The independent review process is intended to be neutral and independent of influence by any affected party or by state government. The commissioner may conduct investigations under the provisions of this chapter but the commissioner has no involvement in the disposition of specific cases.
(b) Independent review is a paper review process. These rules do not establish a right to in-person participation or attendance by the enrollee, the health plan, or the attending provider nor to reconsideration of IRO determinations.
(c) An IRO shall present cases to reviewers in a way that maximizes the likelihood of a clear, unambiguous determination. This may involve stating or restating the questions for review in a clear and precise manner that encourages yes or no answers.
(d) If more than one reviewer is used, the IRO shall:
(i) Provide an opportunity for the reviewers to exchange ideas and opinions about the case with one another, if requested by a reviewer. This must be done in a manner that avoids pressure on reviewers to take a position with which they do not agree and preserves a dissenting reviewer's opportunity to document the rationale for dissent in the case file.
(ii) Accept the majority decision of the clinical reviewers in determining clinical issues.
(e) When a case requires an interpretation regarding the application of health plan coverage provisions, that determination must be made by a reviewer or reviewers who are qualified as contract specialists.
(f) An IRO may uphold an adverse benefit determination if the patient or any provider refuses to provide relevant medical records that are available and have been requested with reasonable opportunity to respond. An IRO may overturn an adverse benefit determination if the carrier refuses to provide relevant medical records that are available and have been requested with reasonable opportunity to respond.
(g) If reviewers are deadlocked, the IRO may add another reviewer if time allows.
(h) If all pertinent information has been disclosed and reviewers are unable to make a determination, the IRO shall decide in favor of the enrollee.
(5) Notification and documentation of determinations. An IRO shall notify the enrollee and the carrier of the result and rationale for the determination, including its clinical basis unless the decision is wholly based on application of coverage provisions, within the time frame in subsection (3)(b) of this section.
(a) Documentation of the basis for the determination shall include references to supporting evidence, and if applicable, the rationale for any interpretation regarding the application of health plan coverage provisions.
(b) If the determination overrides the health plan's medical necessity or appropriateness standards, the rationale shall document why the health plan's standards are unreasonable or inconsistent with sound, evidence-based medical practice.
(c) The written report shall include the qualifications of reviewers but shall not disclose the identity of the reviewers.
(d) Notification of the determination must be provided initially by telephone, email, or facsimile, followed by a written report by mail. In the case of expedited reviews the initial notification must be immediate and by telephone.
(6) Each IRO must submit final decision determination information to the commissioner's online service within three business days of the IRO's final decision. Data elements and procedures for submission are located on the commissioner's web site.