(1) General criteria and considerations.
(b) The expert reviewers from a certified IRO will make determinations regarding the medical necessity or appropriateness of, and the application of health plan coverage provisions to, health care services for an enrollee.
(c) The IRO shall ensure that determinations are consistent with the scope of covered benefits as outlined in the medical coverage agreement.
(i) Clinical reviewers may override the health plan's medical necessity or appropriateness standards only if the standards are determined upon review to be unreasonable or inconsistent with sound, evidence-based medical practice, or experimental or investigational treatment protocols.
(ii) Reviewers may make determinations about the application of general health plan coverage provisions to specific issues concerning health care services for an enrollee. For example, whether a specific service is excluded by more general benefit exclusion language may require independent interpretation.
(2) Medical necessity and appropriateness - Criteria and considerations. Only clinical reviewers may determine whether a service, which is the subject of an adverse decision, is medically necessary and appropriate. These determinations must be based upon their expert clinical judgment, after consideration of relevant medical, scientific, and cost-effectiveness evidence, and medical standards of practice in Washington state.
(a) Medical standards of practice include the standards appropriately applied to physicians or other health care providers, as pertinent to the case.
(b) In considering medical standards of practice within Washington state:
(i) Clinical reviewers may use national standards of care, absent evidence presented by the health plan or enrollee that the Washington state standard of care is different.
(ii) A health care service or treatment should be considered part of the Washington state standard of practice if reviewers believe that failure to provide it would be inconsistent with that degree of care, skill and learning expected of a reasonably prudent health care provider acting in the same or similar circumstances.
(c) Medical necessity will be a factor in most cases referred to an IRO, but not necessarily in all. See WAC 284-43A-080.
(3) Health plan coverage provisions - Criteria and considerations. The following requirements must be observed when a review requires making determinations about the application of health plan coverage provisions to issues concerning health care services for an enrollee.
(a) These determinations must be made by one or more contract specialists meeting the requirements of WAC 284-43A-060
(4), except that a clinical determination of medical necessity or appropriateness, by itself, is not an interpretation of the scope of covered benefits and does not require a contract specialist.
(b) If the full health plan coverage agreement has not already been provided by the carrier under WAC 284-43A-140
, the IRO shall request additional provisions from the health plan coverage agreement in effect during the relevant period of the enrollee's coverage, as necessary to have an adequate context for determinations.
(c) In general, the IRO and its contract specialists may assume that the contractual health plan coverage provisions themselves are consistent with the Washington Insurance Code (Title 48
RCW), absent information to the contrary. Primary responsibility for determining consistency with the insurance code, when at issue, rests with the commissioner.
(4) No provision of this chapter should be interpreted to establish a standard of medical care, or to create or eliminate any cause of action.