Today's Law As Amended


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SB-964 Health care coverage.(2013-2014)



As Amends the Law Today
As Amends the Law on Nov 21, 2014


SECTION 1.

 Section 1367.03 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:

1367.03.
 (a) A health care service plan that provides or arranges for the provision of hospital or physician services, including a specialized mental health plan that provides physician or hospital services, or that provides mental health services pursuant to a contract with a full service plan, shall comply with the following timely access requirements:
(1) (a)  A health care service plan shall provide or arrange for the provision of covered  Not later than January 1, 2004, the department shall develop and adopt regulations to ensure that enrollees have access to needed  health care services in a timely manner appropriate for the nature of the enrollee’s condition consistent with good professional practice. A plan shall establish and maintain provider networks, policies, procedures, and quality assurance monitoring systems and processes sufficient to ensure compliance with this clinical appropriateness standard. A health care service plan that uses a tiered network shall demonstrate compliance with the standards established by this section based on providers available at the lowest cost-sharing tier. manner. In developing these regulations, the department shall develop indicators of timeliness of access to care and, in so doing, shall consider the following as indicators of timeliness of access to care: 
(2) A health care service plan shall ensure that all plan and provider processes necessary to obtain covered health care services, including, but not limited to, prior authorization processes, are completed in a manner that assures the provision of covered health care services to an enrollee in a timely manner appropriate for the enrollee’s condition and in compliance with this section.
(3) If it is necessary for a provider or an enrollee to reschedule an appointment, the appointment shall be promptly rescheduled in a manner that is appropriate for the enrollee’s health care needs, and ensures continuity of care consistent with good professional practice, and consistent with this section and the regulations adopted thereunder.
(4) Interpreter services required by Section 1367.04 of this code and Section 1300.67.04 of Title 28 of the California Code of Regulations shall be coordinated with scheduled appointments for health care services in a manner that ensures the provision of interpreter services at the time of the appointment without imposing delay on the scheduling of the appointment. This subdivision does not modify the requirements established in Section 1300.67.04 of Title 28 of the California Code of Regulations, or approved by the department pursuant to Section 1300.67.04 of Title 28 of the California Code of Regulations for a plan’s language assistance program.
(5) In addition to ensuring compliance with the clinical appropriateness standard set forth in paragraph (1), a health care service plan shall ensure that its contracted provider network has adequate capacity and availability of licensed health care providers to offer enrollees appointments that meet the following timeframes:
(A) Urgent care appointments for services that do not require prior authorization: within 48 hours of the request for appointment, except as provided in subparagraph (H).
(B) Urgent care appointments for services that require prior authorization: within 96 hours of the request for appointment, except as provided in subparagraph (H).
(C) Nonurgent appointments for primary care: within 10 business days of the request for appointment, except as provided in subparagraphs (H) and (I).
(D) Nonurgent appointments with specialist physicians: within 15 business days of the request for appointment, except as provided in subparagraphs (H) and (I).
(E) Nonurgent appointments with a nonphysician mental health care or substance use disorder provider: within 10 business days of the request for appointment, except as provided in subparagraphs (H) and (I).
(F) Commencing July 1, 2022, nonurgent followup appointments with a nonphysician mental health care or substance use disorder provider: within 10 business days of the prior appointment for those undergoing a course of treatment for an ongoing mental health or substance use disorder condition, except as provided in subparagraph (H). This subparagraph does not limit coverage for nonurgent followup appointments with a nonphysician mental health care or substance use disorder provider to once every 10 business days.
(G) Nonurgent appointments for ancillary services for the diagnosis or treatment of injury, illness, or other health condition: within 15 business days of the request for appointment, except as provided in subparagraphs (H) and (I).
(H) The applicable waiting time for a particular appointment may be extended if the referring or treating licensed health care provider, or the health professional providing triage or screening services, as applicable, acting within the scope of their practice and consistent with professionally recognized standards of practice, has determined and noted in the relevant record that a longer waiting time will not have a detrimental impact on the health of the enrollee.
(I) Preventive care services, as defined in subdivision (e), and periodic followup care, including standing referrals to specialists for chronic conditions, periodic office visits to monitor and treat pregnancy, cardiac, mental health, or substance use disorder conditions, and laboratory and radiological monitoring for recurrence of disease, may be scheduled in advance consistent with professionally recognized standards of practice as determined by the treating licensed health care provider acting within the scope of their practice.
(J) A referral to a specialist by a primary care provider or another specialist shall be subject to the relevant time-elapsed standard in subparagraph (A), (B), or (D), unless the requirements in subparagraph (H) or (I) are met, and shall be subject to the other provisions of this section.
(K) A plan may demonstrate compliance with the primary care time-elapsed standards established by this subdivision through implementation of standards, processes, and systems providing advanced access to primary care appointments, as defined in subdivision (e).
(6) In addition to ensuring compliance with the clinical appropriateness standard set forth in paragraph (1), each dental plan, and each full service plan offering coverage for dental services, shall ensure that contracted dental provider networks have adequate capacity and availability of licensed health care providers to offer enrollees appointments for covered dental services in accordance with the following requirements:
(A) Urgent appointments within the dental plan network shall be offered within 72 hours of the time of request for appointment, if consistent with the enrollee’s individual needs and as required by professionally recognized standards of dental practice.
(B) Nonurgent appointments shall be offered within 36 business days of the request for appointment, except as provided in subparagraph (C).
(C) Preventive dental care appointments shall be offered within 40 business days of the request for appointment.
(7) A plan shall ensure it has sufficient numbers of contracted providers to maintain compliance with the standards established by this section.
(A) This section does not modify the requirements regarding provider-to-enrollee ratio or geographic accessibility established by Section 1300.51, 1300.67.2, or 1300.67.2.1 of Title 28 of the California Code of Regulations.
(B) A plan operating in a service area that has a shortage of one or more types of providers shall ensure timely access to covered health care services as required by this section, including applicable time-elapsed standards, by referring an enrollee to, or, in the case of a preferred provider network, by assisting an enrollee to locate available and accessible contracted providers in neighboring service areas consistent with patterns of practice for obtaining health care services in a timely manner appropriate for the enrollee’s health needs. A plan shall arrange for the provision of specialty services from specialists outside the plan’s contracted network if unavailable within the network if medically necessary for the enrollee’s condition. Enrollee costs for medically necessary referrals to nonnetwork providers shall not exceed applicable copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. This requirement does not prohibit a plan or its delegated provider group from accommodating an enrollee’s preference to wait for a later appointment from a specific contracted provider. If medically necessary treatment of a mental health or substance use disorder is not available in network within the geographic and timely access standards set by law or regulation, a health care service plan shall arrange coverage outside the plan’s contracted network in accordance with subdivision (d) of Section 1374.72.
(8) A plan shall provide or arrange for the provision, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, of triage or screening services by telephone, as defined in subdivision (e).
(A) A plan shall ensure that telephone triage or screening services are provided in a timely manner appropriate for the enrollee’s condition, and that the triage or screening waiting time does not exceed 30 minutes.
(B) (1)  A plan may provide or arrange for the provision of telephone triage or screening services through one or more of the following means: plan-operated telephone triage or screening services, telephone medical advice services pursuant to Section 1348.8, the plan’s contracted  Waiting times for appointments with physicians, including  primary care and mental health care or substance use disorder provider network, or another method that provides triage or screening services consistent with this section. specialty physicians. 
(i) A plan that arranges for the provision of telephone triage or screening services through contracted primary care, mental health care, and substance use disorder providers shall require those providers to maintain a procedure for triaging or screening enrollee telephone calls, which, at a minimum, shall include the employment, during and after business hours, of a telephone answering machine, an answering service, or office staff, that shall inform the caller of both of the following:
(I) Regarding the length of wait for a return call from the provider.
(II) How the caller may obtain urgent or emergency care, including, if applicable, how to contact another provider who has agreed to be on call to triage or screen by phone, or if needed, deliver urgent or emergency care.
(ii) A plan that arranges for the provision of triage or screening services through contracted primary care, mental health care, and substance use disorder providers who are unable to meet the time-elapsed standards established in subparagraph (A) shall also provide or arrange for the provision of plan-contracted or operated triage or screening services, which shall, at a minimum, be made available to enrollees affected by that portion of the plan’s network.
(iii) An unlicensed staff person handling enrollee calls may ask questions on behalf of a licensed staff person to help ascertain the condition of an insured so that the enrollee may be referred to licensed staff. However, an unlicensed staff person shall not, under any circumstances, use the answers to those questions in an attempt to assess, evaluate, advise, or make a decision regarding the condition of an enrollee or determine when an enrollee needs to be seen by a licensed medical professional.
(9) Dental, vision, chiropractic, and acupuncture plans shall ensure that contracted providers employ an answering service or a telephone answering machine during nonbusiness hours, which provide instructions regarding how an enrollee may obtain urgent or emergency care, including, if applicable, how to contact another provider who has agreed to be on call to triage or screen by phone, or if needed, deliver urgent or emergency care.
(10) A plan shall ensure that, during normal business hours, the waiting time for an enrollee to speak by telephone with a plan customer service representative knowledgeable and competent regarding the enrollee’s questions and concerns shall not exceed 10 minutes.
(b) Dental, vision, chiropractic, and acupuncture plans shall comply with paragraphs (1), (3), (4), (7), (9), and (10) of subdivision (a).
(c) The obligation of a plan to comply with this section shall not be waived if the plan delegates to its medical groups, independent practice associations, or other contracting entities any services or activities that the plan is required to perform. A plan’s implementation of this section shall be consistent with the Health Care Providers’ Bill of Rights, and a material change in the obligations of a plan’s contracting providers shall be considered a material change to the provider contract, within the meaning of subdivision (b) and paragraph (2) of subdivision (h) of Section 1375.7.
(d) A plan shall not prevent, discourage, or discipline a contracting provider or employee for informing an enrollee or subscriber about the timely access standards.
(e) For purposes of this section:
(1) (2)  “Advanced access” means the provision, by an individual provider, or by the medical group or independent practice association to which an enrollee is assigned, of appointments with a primary care physician, or other qualified primary care provider such as a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, within the same or next business day from the time an appointment is requested, and advance scheduling of appointments at a later date if the enrollee prefers not to accept the appointment offered within the same or the next business day. Timeliness of care in an episode of illness, including the timeliness of referrals and obtaining other services, if needed. 
(2) “Appointment waiting time” means the time from the initial request for health care services by an enrollee or the enrollee’s treating provider to the earliest date offered for the appointment for services inclusive of time for obtaining authorization from the plan or completing any other condition or requirement of the plan or its contracting providers.
(3) “Preventive care” means health care provided for prevention and early detection of disease, illness, injury, or another health condition and, in the case of a full service plan includes all of the basic health care services required by paragraph (5) of subdivision (b) of Section 1345, and subdivision (f) of Section 1300.67 of Title 28 of the California Code of Regulations.
(4) “Provider group” has the meaning set forth in subdivision (g) of Section 1373.65.
(5) (3)  “Triage” or “screening” means the assessment of an enrollee’s health concerns and symptoms via communication with  Waiting time to speak to  a physician, registered nurse, or other qualified health professional acting within their  his or her  scope of practice and  who is trained to screen or triage an enrollee who may need care for the purpose of determining the urgency of the enrollee’s need for  care.
(b) In developing these standards for timeliness of access, the department shall consider the following:
(1) Clinical appropriateness.
(2) The nature of the specialty.
(3) The urgency of care.
(4) The requirements of other provisions of law, including Section 1367.01 governing utilization review, that may affect timeliness of access.
(6) (c)  “Triage or screening waiting time” means the time waiting to speak by telephone with a physician, registered nurse, or other qualified health professional acting within their scope of practice and who is trained to screen or triage an enrollee who may need care. The department may adopt standards other than the time elapsed between the time an enrollee seeks health care and obtains care. If the department chooses a standard other than the time elapsed between the time an enrollee first seeks health care and obtains it, the department shall demonstrate why that standard is more appropriate. In developing these standards, the department shall consider the nature of the plan network. 
(d) The department shall review and adopt standards, as needed, concerning the availability of primary care physicians, specialty physicians, hospital care, and other health care, so that consumers have timely access to care. In so doing, the department shall consider the nature of physician practices, including individual and group practices as well as the nature of the plan network. The department shall also consider various circumstances affecting the delivery of care, including urgent care, care provided on the same day, and requests for specific providers. If the department finds that health care service plans and health care providers have difficulty meeting these standards, the department may make recommendations to the Assembly Committee on Health and the Senate Committee on Insurance of the Legislature pursuant to subdivision (i).
(7) (e)  “Urgent care” means health care for a condition that requires prompt attention, consistent with paragraph (2) of subdivision (h) of Section 1367.01. In developing standards under subdivision (a), the department shall consider requirements under federal law, requirements under other state programs, standards adopted by other states, nationally recognized accrediting organizations, and professional associations. The department shall further consider the needs of rural areas, specifically those in which health facilities are more than 30 miles apart and any requirements imposed by the State Department of Health Care Services on health care service plans that contract with the State Department of Health Care Services to provide Medi-Cal managed care. 
(f) (1) Contracts between health care service plans and health care providers shall ensure compliance with the standards developed under this chapter. section.  These contracts shall require reporting by health care providers to health care service plans and by health care service plans to the department to ensure compliance with the standards.
(2) Health care service plans shall report annually to the department on compliance with the standards in a manner specified by the department. The reported information shall allow consumers to compare the performance of plans and their contracting providers in complying with the standards, as well as changes in the compliance of plans with these standards.
(3) The department shall may  develop standardized methodologies for reporting that shall be used by health care service plans to demonstrate compliance with this section and any regulations adopted pursuant to it, including demonstration of the average waiting time for each class of appointment regulated under this section.  it.  The methodologies shall be sufficient to determine compliance with the standards developed under this section for different networks of providers if a health care service plan uses a different network for Medi-Cal managed care products than for other products or if a health care service plan uses a different network for individual market products than for small group market products. The development and adoption of these methodologies shall not be subject to the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code) until July January  1, 2025. 2020.  The department shall consult with stakeholders in developing standardized methodologies under this paragraph.
(g) (1) When evaluating compliance with the standards, the department shall focus more upon patterns of noncompliance rather than isolated episodes of noncompliance.
(g) (2)  (1)  The director may investigate and take enforcement action against plans regarding noncompliance with the requirements of this section. Where substantial harm to an enrollee has occurred as a result of plan noncompliance, the director may, by order, assess administrative penalties subject to appropriate notice of, and the opportunity for, a hearing in accordance with Section 1397. The plan may provide to the director, and the director may consider, information regarding the plan’s overall compliance with the requirements of this section. The administrative penalties shall not be deemed an exclusive remedy available to the director. These penalties shall be paid to the Managed Care Administrative Fines and Penalties Fund and shall be used for the purposes specified in Section 1341.45. The director shall periodically evaluate grievances to determine if any audit, investigative, or enforcement actions should be undertaken by the department.
(2) (3)  The director may, after appropriate notice and opportunity for hearing in accordance with Section 1397, by order, assess administrative penalties if the director determines that a health care service plan has knowingly committed, or has performed with a frequency that indicates a general business practice, either of the following:
(A) Repeated failure to act promptly and reasonably to assure timely access to care consistent with this chapter.
(B) Repeated failure to act promptly and reasonably to require contracting providers to assure timely access that the plan is required to perform under this chapter and that have been delegated by the plan to the contracting provider when the obligation of the plan to the enrollee or subscriber is reasonably clear.
(C) The administrative penalties available to the director pursuant to this section are not exclusive, and may be sought and employed in any combination with civil, criminal, and other administrative remedies deemed warranted by the director to enforce this chapter.
(3) (4)  The administrative penalties shall be paid to the Managed Care Administrative Fines and Penalties Fund and shall be used for the purposes specified in Section 1341.45.
(h) The department shall work with the patient advocate to assure that the quality of care report card incorporates information provided pursuant to subdivision (f) regarding the degree to which health care service plans and health care providers comply with the requirements for timely access to care.
(i) The department shall annually review information regarding compliance with the standards developed under this section and shall make recommendations for changes that further protect enrollees. Commencing no later than December 1, 2015, and annually thereafter, the department shall post its final findings from the review on its internet website. Internet Web site. 
(j) The department shall post on its internet website  Internet Web site  any waivers or alternative standards that the department approves under this section on or after January 1, 2015.
(k) This section shall apply to Medi-Cal managed care plan contracts entered into with the State Department of Health Care Services pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 14000) or Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 14200) of Part 3 of Division 9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
(l) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the department from developing additional standards to improve timely access to care and network adequacy.

SEC. 2.

 Section 1367.035 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:

1367.035.
 (a) As part of the reports submitted to the department pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 1367.03 and regulations adopted pursuant to that section, a health care service plan shall submit to the department, in a manner specified by the department, data regarding network adequacy, including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) Provider office location.
(2) Area of specialty.
(3) Hospitals where providers have admitting privileges, if any.
(4) Providers with open practices.
(5) The number of patients assigned to a primary care provider or, for providers who do not have assigned enrollees, information that demonstrates the capacity of primary care providers to be accessible and available to enrollees.
(6) Grievances regarding network adequacy and timely access that the health care service plan received during the preceding calendar year.
(b) A health care service plan that uses a network for its Medi-Cal managed care product line that is different from the network used for its other product lines shall submit the data required under subdivision (a) for its Medi-Cal managed care product line separately from the data submitted for its other product lines.
(c) A health care service plan that uses a network for its individual market product line that is different from the network used for its small group market product line shall submit the data required under subdivision (a) for its individual market product line separate from the data submitted for its small group market product line.
(d) The department shall review the data submitted pursuant to this section for compliance with this chapter.
(e) In submitting data under this section, a health care service plan that provides services to Medi-Cal beneficiaries pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 14000) or Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 14200) of Part 3 of Division 9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, shall provide the same data to the State Department of Health Care Services pursuant to Section 14456.3 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
(f) In developing the format and requirements for reports, data, or other information provided by plans pursuant to subdivision (a), the department shall not create duplicate reporting requirements, but, instead, shall take into consideration all existing relevant reports, data, or other information provided by plans to the department. This subdivision does not limit the authority of the department to request additional information from the plan as deemed necessary to carry out and complete any enforcement action initiated under this chapter.
(g) If the department requests additional information or data to be reported pursuant to subdivision (a), which is different or in addition to the information required to be reported in paragraphs (1) to (6), inclusive, of subdivision (a), the department shall provide health care service plans notice of that change by November 1 of the year prior to the change.
(h) A health care service plan may include in the provider contract provisions requiring compliance with the reporting requirements of Section 1367.03 and this section.

SEC. 3.

 Section 1380.3 of the Health and Safety Code is repealed.

1380.3.
 The department shall coordinate the surveys conducted pursuant to Section 1380 with the State Department of Health Care Services, to the extent possible, in order to allow for simultaneous oversight of Medi-Cal managed care plans by both departments, provided that this coordination does not result in a delay of the surveys required under Section 1380 or in the failure of the department to conduct those surveys.

SEC. 4.

 Section 1380.3 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:

1380.3.
 The department shall coordinate the surveys conducted pursuant to Section 1380 with the State Department of Health Care Services, to the extent possible, in order to allow for simultaneous oversight of Medi-Cal managed care plans by both departments, provided that this coordination does not result in a delay of the surveys required under Section 1380 or in the failure of the department to conduct those surveys.

SEC. 5.

 Section 14456 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

14456.
 The department shall conduct annual medical audits of each prepaid health plan unless the director determines there is good cause for additional reviews.
The reviews shall use the standards and criteria established pursuant to the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act of 1975, as appropriate. Except in those instances where major unanticipated administrative obstacles prevent, or after a determination by the director of good cause, the reviews shall be scheduled and carried out jointly with reviews carried out pursuant to the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act of 1975, if reviews will be carried out within time periods which satisfy the requirements of federal law.
The department shall be authorized to contract with professional organizations or the Department of Managed Health Care, as appropriate, to perform the periodic review required by this section. The department, or its designee, shall make a finding of fact with respect to the ability of the prepaid health plan to provide quality health care services, effectiveness of peer review, and utilization control mechanisms, and the overall performance of the prepaid health plan in providing health care benefits to its enrollees.
The director shall publicly report the findings of finalized annual medical audits conducted pursuant to this section as soon as possible, but no later than 90 days following completion of any corrective action plan initiated pursuant to the audit, if any, unless the director determines, in his or her discretion, that additional time is reasonably necessary to fully and fairly report the results of the audit.

SEC. 6.

 Section 14456.3 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

14456.3.
 (a) The department shall share with the Department of Managed Health Care its findings from medical audits and monthly provider files of a Medi-Cal managed care plan that provides services to Medi-Cal beneficiaries pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 14000) or this chapter and is subject to Chapter 2.2 (commencing with Section 1340) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code.
(b) To the extent that the department communicates its preliminary investigative audit findings to the Department of Managed Health Care under subdivision (a), those communications shall be exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 6250) of Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code).
SEC. 7.
 The Legislature finds and declares that Section 6 of this act, which adds Section 14456.3 to the Welfare and Institutions Code, imposes a limitation on the public’s right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies within the meaning of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution. Pursuant to that constitutional provision, the Legislature makes the following findings to demonstrate the interest protected by this limitation and the need for protecting that interest:
In order to ensure the confidentiality of preliminary investigative findings disclosed by the State Department of Health Care Services to the Department of Managed Health Care pursuant to this act, the limitation on the public’s right of access to that information is necessary.
SEC. 8.
 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.