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80.73 Health service necessity of treatment dispute resolution process.

(1) PURPOSE. The purpose of this section is to establish the procedures and requirements for resolving a dispute under s. 102.16 (2m) , Stats., between a health service provider and an insurer or self-;insurer over the necessity of treatment rendered by a provider to an injured worker.

(2) DEFINITIONS. In this section:

(a) "Dispute" means a disagreement between a provider and an insurer or self-;insurer over the necessity of treatment rendered to an injured worker where the insurer or self-;insurer refuses to pay part or all of the provider's bill.
(b) "Expert" means a person licensed to practice in the same health care profession as the individual health service provider whose treatment is under review, and who provides an opinion on the necessity of treatment rendered to an injured worker for an impartial health care services review organization or as a member of an independent panel established by the department.
(c) "Licensed to practice in the same health care profession" means licensed to practice as a physician, psychologist, chiropractor, podiatrist or dentist.
(d) "Provider" includes a hospital, physician, psychologist, chiropractor, podiatrist, physician's assistant, advanced practice nurse prescriber, or dentist, or another licensed medical practitioner who provides treatment ordered by a physician, psychologist, chiropractor, podiatrist, physician's assistant, advanced practice nurse prescriber, or dentist whose order of treatment is subject to review.
(e) "Review organization" or "impartial health care services review organization" means a public or private entity not owned or operated by, or regularly doing medical reviews for, any insurer, self-;insurer, or provider, and which, for a fee, can provide expert opinions regarding the necessity of treatment provided to an injured worker.
(f) "Self-;insurer" means an employer who has been granted an exemption from the duty to insure under s. 102.28 (2) , Stats.
(g) "Treatment" means any procedure intended to cure and relieve an injured worker from the effects of an injury under s. 102.42 , Stats.
(3) NOTICE TO THE PROVIDER. (a) In a case where liability or the extent of liability is in dispute, an insurer or self-;insured employer shall provide written notice of the dispute to the health care provider within 60 days after receiving a bill that documents the treatment provided to the worker, unless there is good cause for delay in providing notice. An insurer or self-;insurer which refuses to pay for treatment rendered to an injured worker because it disputes that the treatment is necessary shall, in a case where liability or the extent of liability is not an issue, give the provider written notice within 60 days of receiving a bill which documents the treatment provided to the worker. The notice shall specify all of the following:
  1. The name of the patient employee.

  2. The name of the employer on the date of injury.

  3. The date of the treatment in dispute.

  4. The amount charged for the treatment and the amount in dispute.

  5. The reason that the insurer or self-;insurer believes the treatment was unnecessary, including the organization and credentials of any person who provides supporting medical documentation and a copy of the supporting medical documentation from that person.

  6. The provider's right to initiate an independent review by the department within 9 months under sub. (6) , including a description of how costs will be assessed under sub. (8) .

  7. The address to use in directing correspondence to the insurer or self-;insurer regarding the dispute.

  8. That pursuant to s. 102.16 (2m) (b) , Stats., once the notice required by this subsection is received by a provider, the provider may not collect a fee for the disputed treatment from, or bring an action for collection of the fee for that disputed treatment against, the employee who received the treatment.

(b) At the request of an insurer or self-;insurer, the department may extend the 60-;day period in par. (a) where the insurer or self-; insurer is unable to obtain the supporting medical documentation within the 60-;day period, or where the department determines other extraordinary circumstances justify an extension.
(c) Except as provided in par. (b) , if an insurer or self-;insurer provides the notice after the 60-;day period, the provider may immediately request the department to issue a default order requiring the insurer or self-;insurer to pay the full amount in dispute.
(4) NOTICE TO THE INSURER OR SELF-;INSURER. After receiving notice from the insurer or self-;insurer under sub. (3) and, except as provided in sub. (3) (b) and (c) , at least 30 days prior to submitting a dispute to the department, the provider shall explain to the insurer or self-;insurer in writing why the treatment was necessary to cure and relieve the effects of the injury, including a diagnosis of the condition for which treatment was provided.

Register October 2015 No. 718

(5) RESPONSE BY THE INSURER OR SELF-;INSURER. (a) Within 30 days from the date on which the provider sent or delivered notice under sub. (4) , an insurer or self-;insurer shall notify the provider whether or not it accepts the provider's explanation regarding necessity of treatment.
(b) If the insurer or self-;insurer accepts the provider's explanation, the provider's fee must be paid in full, or in an amount mutually agreed to by the provider and insurer or self-;insurer, within the 30-;day period specified in par. (a) . In the case of late payment, the insurer or self-;insurer shall pay simple interest on the amount mutually agreed upon at the annual rate of 12 percent, from the day after the 30-;day period lapses to the date of actual payment to the provider.
(6) SUBMITTING DISPUTES TO THE DEPARTMENT. (a) For the department to determine whether or not treatment was necessary under s. 102.16 (2m) , Stats., a provider shall, after the 30-;day notice period in sub. (4) has elapsed, apply to the department in writing to resolve the dispute. The provider shall apply to the department within 9 months from the date it receives notice under sub. (3) from the insurer or self-;insurer refusing to pay the provider's bill.
(b) The provider's application to the department shall include copies of all correspondence related to the dispute.
(c) At the time it files the application with the department, the provider shall send or deliver to the insurer or self-;insurer which is refusing to pay for the treatment in dispute a copy of all materials submitted to the department.
(d) When an application to resolve a dispute is submitted, the department shall notify the insurer or self-;insurer that it has 20 days to either pay the bill in full for the treatment in dispute or to file an answer under par. (e) for the department to use in the review process in sub. (7) .
(e) The answer shall include copies of any prior correspondence relating to the dispute which the provider has not already filed, and any other material which responds to the provider's application. The answer shall include the name of the organization, and credentials of any individual, whose review of the case has been relied upon in reaching the decision to deny payment.
(f) The department may develop and require the use of forms to facilitate the exchange of information. Note: To obtain a form under par. (f), contact the Department of Workforce Development, Worker's Compensation Division, 201 East Washington Avenue, P.O. Box 7901, Madison, Wisconsin 53707 or access the form online at http://dwd.wiscon sin.gov.

(7) REVIEW PROCESS. (a) After the 20-;day period in sub. (6)

(d) for the insurer or self-;insurer to answer has passed, the department shall provide a copy of all materials in its possession relating to a dispute to an impartial health care services review organization, or to an expert from a panel of experts established by the department, to obtain an expert written opinion on the necessity of treatment in dispute.
(b) In all cases where the dispute involves a Wisconsin provider, the expert reviewer shall be licensed to practice in Wisconsin.
(c) When necessary to provide a fair and informed decision, the expert may contact the provider, insurer or self-;insurer for clarification of issues raised in the written materials. Where the contact is in writing, the expert shall provide all parties to the dispute with a copy of the request for clarification and a copy of any responses received. Where the contact is by phone, the expert shall arrange a conference call giving all parties an opportunity to participate simultaneously.
(d) Within 90 days of receiving the material from the department under par. (a) , the review organization or panel shall provide the department with the expert's written opinion regarding the necessity of treatment, including a recommendation regarding how much of the provider's bill the insurer or self-;insurer should pay, if any. At the same time that it provides an opinion to the department, the review organization or panel on which the expert serves shall send a copy of the opinion to the provider and the insurer or self-;insurer which are parties to the dispute.

(e) The provider, insurer or self-;insurer shall have 30 days from the date the expert's opinion is received by the department under par. (d) to present written evidence to the department that the expert's opinion is in error. Unless the department receives clear and convincing written evidence that the opinion is in error, the department shall adopt the written opinion of the expert as the department's determination on the issues covered in the written opinion.
(f) If the necessity of treatment dispute involves a claim for which an application for hearing is filed under s. 102.17 , Stats., or an injury for which the insurer or self-;insurer disputes the cause of the injury, the extent of the disability, or other issues which could result in an application for hearing being filed, the department may delay resolution of the necessity of treatment dispute until a hearing is held or an order is issued resolving the dispute between the injured employee and the insurer or self-;insurer.
(8) PAYMENT OF COSTS. (a) The department shall charge the insurer or self-;insurer the full cost of obtaining the written opinion of the expert for the first dispute involving the necessity of treatment rendered by an individual provider, unless the department determines the provider's position in the dispute is frivolous or based on fraudulent representations.
(b) In a subsequent dispute involving the same provider, the department shall charge the full cost of obtaining the expert's opinion to the losing party.
(c) Any time prior to the department's order determining the necessity of treatment, the department shall dismiss the application if the provider and insurer or self-;insurer mutually agree on the necessity of treatment and the payment of any costs incurred by the department related to obtaining the expert opinion.
(9) DEPARTMENT INITIATIVE. In addition to the provider's right to submit a dispute to the department under sub. (6) , the department may initiate resolution of a dispute on necessity of treatment when requested to do so by an injured worker, an insurer or a self-; insurer. The department shall notify the insurer or self-;insurer of its intention to initiate the dispute resolution process and shall direct them to provide information necessary to resolve the dispute. The department shall allow up to 60 days for the parties to respond, but may extend the response period at the request of either party.
(10) EXPERT PANELS. The department may establish one or more panels of experts in one or more treating disciplines, and may set the terms and conditions for membership on any panel. In making appointments to a panel the department shall consider:
(a) An individual's training and experience, including:
  1. The number of years of practice in a particular discipline;

  2. The extent to which the individual currently derives his or her income from an active practice in a particular discipline; and,

  3. Certification by boards or other organizations;

(b) The recommendation of organizations that regulate or promote professional standards in the discipline for which the panel is being created; and,
(c) Any other factors that the department may determine are relevant to an individual's ability to serve fairly and impartially as a member of an expert panel.
(11) APPLICABILITY. This section first applies to health services provided on January 1, 1992, and shall take effect on July 1, 1992.

History: Emerg. cr. eff. 1-;1-;92; cr. Register, June, 1992, No. 438 , eff. 7-;1-;92; CR 03-;125 : am. (3) (a) (intro.) Register June 2004 No. 582 , eff. 7-;1-;04; CR 07-;019 : am.

(2) (d), Register October 2007 No. 622 , eff. 11-;1-;07; CR 15-;030 : am. (3) (a) 1. to 7., (6) (f) Register October 2015 No. 718 , eff. 11-;1-;15.



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