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Chapter 4.5. Division of Workers' Compensation
Subchapter 1. Administrative Director--Administrative Rules
Article 5.5.1. Utilization Review Standards
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§9792.11. Investigation Procedures: Labor Code s4610 Utilization Review Violations.

(a) To carry out the responsibilities mandated by Labor Code Section 4610(i), the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, shall investigate the utilization review process of any employer, insurer or other entity subject to the provisions of section 4610. The investigation shall include, but not be limited to, review of the practices, files, documents and other records, whether electronic or paper, of the claims administrator, and any other person responsible for utilization review processes for an employer. As used in sections 9792.11 through 9792.15, the phrase 'utilization review organization' includes any person or entity with which the employer, or an insurer, or third party administrator, contracts to fulfill part or all of the employer's utilization review responsibilities under Labor Code section 4610 and Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, sections 9792.6 through 9792.15.

(b) Notwithstanding Labor Code section 129(a) through (d) and section 129.5 subdivisions (a) through (d), the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, may conduct a utilization review investigation pursuant to Labor Code section 4610, which may include, but is not limited to, an audit of files and other records.

(c) The Administrative Director, or his or her designee, may conduct a utilization review investigation at any location where Labor Code Section 4610 utilization review processes occur, as follows:

(1) For utilization review organizations:

(A) A Routine Investigation shall be initiated at each known utilization review organization at least once every three (3) years. The investigation shall include a review of a random sample of requests for authorization, as defined by section 9792.6(o), received by the utilization review organization during the three most recent full calendar months preceding the date of the issuance of the Notice of Utilization Review Investigation. The investigation may also include a review of any credible complaints received by the Administrative Director since the time of the previous investigation. If there has not been a previous investigation, the investigation may include a review of any credible complaints received by the Administrative Director since the effective date of sections 9792.11 through 9792.15.

(B) Target Investigations:

1. A Return Target Investigation of the same investigation subject shall be conducted within 18 months of the date of the previous investigation if the performance rating was less than eighty-five percent.

2. A Special Target Investigation may be conducted at any time based on credible information indicating the possible existence of a violation of Labor Code section 4610 or sections 9792.6 through 9792.12.

3. The Return Target Investigation and the Special Target Investigation may include: (i) a review of the requests for authorization previously investigated which contained violations; (ii) a review of the file or files pertaining to the complaint or possible violation; (iii) a random sample of requests for authorization received by the utilization review organization during the three most recent full calendar months preceding the date of the issuance of the Notice of Utilization Review Investigation; (iv) a sample of a specific type of request for authorization; and (v) any credible complaints received by the Administrative Director since the time of any prior investigation. If there has not been a previous investigation, the investigation may include a review of any credible complaints received by the Administrative Director since the effective date of sections 9792.11 through 9792.15.

(2) For a claims administrator:

(A) A Routine Investigation shall be initiated at each claims adjusting location at least once every five (5) years concurrent with the profile audit review done pursuant to Labor Code sections 129 and 129.5. The investigation shall include a review of a random sample of requests for authorization, as defined by section 9792.6(o), received by the claims administrator during the three most recent full calendar months preceding the date of the issuance of the Notice of Utilization Review Investigation. The investigation may also include a review of any credible complaints received by the Administrative Director since the time of the previous investigation. If there has not been a previous investigation, the investigation may include a review of any credible complaints received by the Administrative Director since the effective date of sections 9792.11 through 9792.15.

(B) Target Investigations:

1. A Return Target Investigation of the same investigation subject shall be conducted within 18 months of the date of any previous investigation if the performance rating was less than eighty-five percent.

2. A Special Target Investigation may be conducted at any time based on credible information indicating the possible existence of a violation of Labor Code section 4610 or sections 9792.6 through 9792.12.

3. The Return Target Investigation and the Special Target Investigation may include: (i) a review of the requests for authorization previously investigated which contained violations; (ii) a review of the file or files pertaining to the complaint or possible violation; (iii) a random sample of requests for authorization received by the claims administrator during the three most recent full calendar months preceding the date of the issuance of the Notice of Utilization Review Investigation; (iv) a sample of a specific type of request for authorization; and (v) any credible complaints received by the Administrative Director since the time of any prior investigation. If there has not been a previous investigation, the investigation may include a review of any credible complaints received by the Administrative Director since the effective date of sections 9792.11 through 9792.15.

(d) The number of requests for authorization randomly selected for investigation shall be determined based on the following table:

Population of requests for
authorization received
during a three month
calendar period Sample Size
_____________________________________________
5 or less                   all
6-10                        1 less than total
11-13                       2 less than total
14-16                       3 less than total
17-18                       4 less than total
19-20                       5 less than total
21-23                       6 less than total
24                          17
25-26                       18
27-29                       19
30-31                       20
32-33                       21
34-36                       22
37-39                       23
40-41                       24
42-44                       25
45-48                       26
49-51                       27
52-55                       28
56-58                       29
59-62                       30
63-67                       31
68-72                       32
73-77                       33
78-82                       34
83-88                       35
89-95                       36
96-102                      37
103-110                     38
111-119                     39
120-128                     40
129-139                     41
140-151                     42
152-164                     43
165-179                     44
180-197                     45
198-217                     46
218-241                     47
242-269                     48
270-304                     49
305-346                     50
347-399                     51
400-468                     52
469-562                     53
563-696                     54
697-905                     55
906-1,272                                        56
1,273-2,091                                     57
2,092-5,530                                     58
5,531 +                                            59

 

(e) Complaints concerning utilization review procedures may be submitted with any supporting documentation to the Division of Workers' Compensation using the sample complaint form that is posted on the Division's website at:

http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/FORMS/UtilizationReviewcomplaintform.pdf

Complaints should be mailed to DWC Medical Unit-UR, P.O. Box 71010, Oakland, CA 94612, attention UR Complaints or emailed to DWCManagedCare@dir.ca.gov. Complaints received by the Division of Workers' Compensation will be reviewed and investigated, if necessary, to determine if the complaints are credible and indicate the possible existence of a violation of Labor Code section 4610 or sections 9792.6 through 9792.12.

(f) Administrative penalties may be assessed for any failure to comply with Labor Code section 4610, or sections 9792.6 through 9792.12 of Title 8, California Code of Regulations, except that the penalties listed in section 9792.12(a)(6) through (14) and (b) shall only be imposed if the request was subject to the Labor Code section 4610 utilization review process.

(g) In the event an investigation of utilization review processes is done at the claims administrator's adjusting location, concurrent with a profile audit review done pursuant to Labor Code section 129 or 129.5, the administrative penalty amounts for each violation of Labor Code section 4610 or sections 9792.6 through 9792.12 of Title 8, California Code of Regulations, shall be governed by sections 9792.11 through 9792.15. Any such administrative penalty for utilization review process violations shall apply in lieu of the administrative penalty amount allowed under the audit regulations at section 10111.2(b)(8)[vi] of Title 8, California Code of Regulations. In addition, any report of findings from the investigation and any Order to Show Cause re: Assessment of Administrative Penalties prepared by the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, based on violations of Labor Code section 4610 or sections 9792.6 through 9792.12 of Title 8, California Code of Regulations, shall be prepared separately from any audit report or assessment of administrative penalties made pursuant to Labor Code section 129 and 129.5. The Order to Show Cause re: Assessment of Administrative Penalties for violations of sections 9792.6 et seq of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations shall be governed by sections 9792.11 through 9792.15.

(h) The Administrative Director, or his or her designee, may also utilize the provisions of Government Code sections 11180 through 11191 to determine whether any violations of the requirements in Labor Code section 4610 or sections 9792.6 through 9792.12 of Title 8, California Code of Regulations, have occurred.

(i) Sections 9792.11 through 9792.15 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations shall apply to any Labor Code section 4610 utilization review investigation conducted on or after the effective date of sections 9792.11 through 9792.15 and for conduct which occurred on or after the effective date of sections 9792.11 through 9792.15.

(j) Unless the Administrative Director in his or her discretion determines that advance notice will render a Special Target or Return Target Investigation less useful, the claims administrator or utilization review organization shall be notified of its selection for an Investigation. Claims administrators and utilization review organizations shall be sent a Notice of Utilization Review Investigation. The Notice of Utilization Review Investigation shall require the investigation subject to provide the following:

(1) A description of the system used to identify each request for authorization (if applicable). To the extent the system identifies any of the following information in an electronic format, the claims administrator or utilization review organization shall provide in an electronic format a list of each and every request for authorization received at the investigation site during a three month calendar period specified by the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, and the following data elements: i) a unique identifying number for each request for authorization if one has been assigned; ii) the name of the injured worker; iii) the claim number used by the claims adjuster; iv) the initial date of receipt of the request for authorization; v) the type of review (expedited prospective, prospective, expedited concurrent, concurrent, retrospective, appeal); vi) the disposition (approve, deny, delay, modify, withdrawal); and, vii) if applicable, the type of person who withdrew the request (requesting physician, claims adjuster, injured employee or his or her attorney, or other person). In the event the claims administrator or utilization review organization is not able to provide the list in an electronic format, the list shall be provided in such a form that the listed requests for authorization are sorted in the following order: by type of utilization review, type of disposition, and date of receipt of the initial request;

(2) A description of all media used to transmit, share, record or store information received and transmitted in reference to each request, whether printed copy, electronic, fax, diskette, computer drive or other media;

(3) A legend of any and all numbers, letters and other symbols used to identify the disposition (e.g. approve, deny, modify, delay or withdraw), type of review (expedited prospective, prospective, expedited concurrent, concurrent, retrospective, appeal), and other abbreviations used to document individual requests for authorization and a data dictionary for all data elements provided;

(4) A description of the methods by which the medical director for utilization review ensures that the process by which requests for authorization are reviewed and approved, modified, delayed, or denied is in compliance with Labor Code section 4610 and sections 9792.6 through 9792.10, as required by sections 9792.6(l) and 9792.7(b) of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations; and

(5) The following additional information, may be requested by the Administrative Director or his or her designee, as applicable to the type of entity investigated: i) whether utilization review services are provided externally; ii) the name(s) of the utilization review organization(s); iii) the name and address of the employer; and iv) the name and address of the insurer.

(k) The utilization review organization or claims administrator shall provide the requested information listed in subdivision (j) within fourteen (14) calendar days of receipt of the Notice of Utilization Review Investigation. Based on the information provided, the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, shall provide the claims administrator or utilization review organization with a Notice of Investigation Commencement, which shall include a list of randomly selected requests for authorization from a three month calendar period designated by the Administrative Director and complaint files (if applicable) for investigation.

(l) For utilization review organizations: Within fourteen (14) calendar days of receipt from the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, of the Notice of Investigation Commencement, the utilization review organization shall deliver to the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, a true and complete copy of all records, whether electronic or paper, for each request for authorization listed. Copies of the records shall be delivered with a statement signed under penalty of perjury by the custodian of records for the location at which the records are held, attesting that all of the records produced are true, correct and complete copies of the originals, in his or her possession. After reviewing the records, the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, shall determine if an onsite investigation is required. If an onsite investigation is required, fourteen (14) calendar days notice shall be provided to the utilization review organization.

(m) For claims administrators: The Notice of Investigation Commencement shall be provided to the claims administrator at least fourteen (14) calendar days prior to the commencement of the onsite investigation. The claims administrator shall produce for the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, on the first day of commencement of the onsite investigation, the true, correct and complete copies, whether electronic or paper, whether located onsite or offsite, of each request for authorization identified by the Administrative Director or his or her designee, together with a statement signed under penalty of perjury by the custodian of records for the location at which the records are held, attesting that all of the records produced are true, correct and complete copies of the originals.

(n) In the event the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, determines additional records or files are needed for review during the course of an onsite investigation, the claims administrator or utilization review organization shall produce the requested records in the manner described by subdivision 9792.11(k), within one (1) working day when the records are located at the site of investigation, and within five (5) working days when the records are located at any other site. Any such request by the Administrative Director or his or her designee also may include records or files pertaining to any complaint alleging violations of Labor Code sections 4610 or sections 9792.6 through 9792.12 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations. The Administrative Director or his or her designee may extend the time for production of the requested records for good cause.

(o) If the date or deadline in sections 9792.9(b) and 9792.9(c) of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations to perform any act related to utilization review practices falls on a weekend or holiday, for the purposes of assessing penalties, the act may be performed on the next normal business day, as defined by Labor Code section 4600.4 and Civil Code section 9. This subdivision shall not apply in cases involving concurrent or expedited review. The timelines in sections 9792.9(b) of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations shall only be extended as provided under section 9792.9(g) of that title.

(p) If the claims administrator or utilization review organization does not record the date a document is received, it shall be deemed received by using the method set out in section 9792.9(a)(2), except that:

(1) where the request for authorization is made by mail through the U.S. postal service and no proof of service by mail exists, the request shall be deemed to have been received by the claims administrator, or utilization review organization on whichever date is earlier, either the receipt date stamped by the addressee or within five (5) calendar days of the date stated in the request for authorization or where the addressee can show a delay in mailing by the postmark date on the mailing envelope then: (A) within five (5) calendar days of the postmark date, if the place of mailing and place of address are both within California; (B) within ten (10) calendar days if the place of address is within the United States but outside of California; or (C) within twenty (20) calendar days if the place of address is outside of the United States; and

(2) where the request for authorization is made by express mail, overnight mail or courier without any proof of service, the request shall be deemed received by the addressee on the date specified in any written confirmation of delivery.

(q) Upon initiating a Special Target Investigation, the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, shall provide to the claims administrator or the utilization review organization a written description of the factual information or of the complaint containing factual information or a copy of the complaint that triggered the utilization review investigation, unless the Administrative Director or his or her designee determines that providing the information would make the investigation less useful. The claims administrator or utilization review organization shall have ten (10) business days upon receipt of the written description or copy of the complaint to provide a written response to the Administrative Director or his or her designee. After reviewing the written response, the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, shall either close the investigation without the assessment of administrative penalties or conduct further investigation to determine whether a violation exists and whether to impose penalty assessments.

(r) For utilization review organizations: The files and other records, whether electronic or paper, that pertain to the utilization review process shall be retained for at least three (3) years following either: (1) the most recent utilization review decision for each injured employee, or (2) the date on which any appeal from the assessment of penalties for violations of Labor Code section 4610 or sections 9792.6 through 9792.12 is final, whichever date is later. Claims administrators shall retain their claim files as set forth in section 10102 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.

(s) Upon receipt of a notice of Routine or Target Investigation or any other request from the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, to review all files and other records pertaining to the employer's utilization review process, whether electronic or paper, that are created or held outside of California, the claims administrator or utilization review organization shall either deliver all such requested files and other records to an address in California specified by the Administrative Director, or his or her designee, or reimburse the Administrative Director for the actual expenses of each investigator who travels outside of California to the place where the records are held, including the per diem expenses, travel expenses and compensated overtime of the investigators.

(t) A preliminary investigation report will be provided to the claims administrator or utilization review organization. The preliminary investigation report shall consist of the preliminary notice of utilization review penalty assessments, the performance rating, and may include one or more requests for additional documentation or compliance. A conference to discuss the preliminary investigation report shall be scheduled, if necessary, within twenty-one calendar days from the issuance of the preliminary findings. Following the conference, the Administrative Director or his or her designee shall issue an Order to Show Cause Re: Assessment of Administrative Penalty (which shall include the final investigation report), as set forth in section 9792.15.

(u) The claims administrator or utilization review organization may stipulate to the allegations and final report set forth in the Order to Show Cause.

(v) Within forty-five (45) calendar days of the service of the Order to Show Cause Re: Assessment of Administrative Penalties, if no answer has been filed, or within 15 calendar days after any and all appeals have become final, the claims administrator or utilization review organization shall provide the following:

(1) A notice, which shall include a copy of the final investigation report, the measures actually implemented to abate such conditions, and the website address for the Division where the performance rating and summary of violations is posted. If a hearing was conducted under section 9792.15, the notice shall include the Final Determination in lieu of the final investigation report.

(2) For utilization review organizations: the notice must be served on any employer or third party claims administrator that contracted with the utilization review organization and whose utilization review process was assessed with a penalty pursuant to section 9792.12, and any insurer whose utilization review process was assessed with a penalty pursuant to section 9792.12.

(3) For claims administrators: the notice must be served on any self-insured employer and any insurer whose utilization review process was assessed with a penalty pursuant to section 9792.12.

(4) The notice shall be served by certified mail.

(5) Documentation of compliance with this section shall be served on the Administrative Director within thirty calendar days from the date the notice was served.

Note: Authority cited: Sections 11180-11191, Government Code; and Sections 133, 4610 and 5307.3, Labor Code. Reference: Sections 129, 129.5, 4062, 4600, 4600.4, 4604.5, 4610 and 4614, Labor Code.

HISTORY

1. New section filed 6-7-2007; operative 6-7-2007 pursuant to GovernmentCode section 11343.4 (Register 2007, No. 23). For prior history, see Register 2005, No. 38

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