(a) Application and certification.
(1) All provisions of this Rule constitute the minimum requirements necessary to obtain and maintain certification as a WC/MCO under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act. To obtain certification of a plan, application shall be submitted on a Form WC-208a accompanied by a non-refundable fee of $1,000.00 and shall include the following information:
(A) An audited financial statement evidencing the ability of the Managed Care Organization to comply with any and all financial requirements to insure the delivery of services the Board may prescribe.
(B) Complete disclosure should be made of the following individuals (an individual may act in more than one capacity):
(1) The names, addresses and resume of all directors and officers of the WC/MCO;
(2) The title, name, address, telephone number and resume of the person to be the day-to-day administrator of the WC/MCO;
(3) The title, name, address, telephone number and resume of the person to be the administrator of the financial affairs of the WC/MCO;
(4) The name, address, medical specialty and resume of the medical director;
(5) The name, address and telephone number of the WC/MCO’s communication liaison for the Board, the insurer, the employer, and the employee; and
(6) The name and address or any other information requested by the Board regarding any entity, other than individual health care providers, with whom the WC/MCO has a joint venture or other agreement to perform any of the functions of the managed care plan, and a description of the specific function to be performed by each entity.
(C) The WC/MCO must insure provisions of quality services that meet all uniform treatment standards required by Georgia law and provide appropriate financial incentives to reduce service costs and utilization without sacrificing the quality of service.
(D) The WC/MCO must provide a description of its proposed geographic service area by county and specify the times, places and manner of providing services, including a statement describing how the WC/MCO will insure that an adequate number of each category of health care provider is available to give employees convenient geographic accessibility to all categories of providers and adequate flexibility to choose health care providers from among those who provide services under the plan.
(E) The WC/MCO must include minority providers, and at a minimum, the following types of health care services and providers, unless the WC/MCO provides evidence that a particular service or type of provider is not available in the geographical service area:
(1) Medical doctors, including specialists in at least one of the following fields: family practice, internal medicine, occupational medicine, or emergency medicine;
(2) Orthopedic surgeons, including specialists in hand and upper extremity surgery;
(3) Neurologists and neurosurgeons;
(4) General surgeons;
(6) Physical and occupational therapists;
(7) Psychologists or psychiatrists;
(8) Diagnostic pathology and laboratory services;
(9) Radiology services; and
(10) Hospital, outpatient surgery, and emergency care services.
(F) The WC/MCO must submit sample copies of all types of agreements with providers who will deliver services under the WC/MCO and a description of any other relationships with providers who may deliver services to a covered employee.
(G) The WC/MCO must attach to each type of sample agreement a corresponding list of names, clinics, addresses and types of license and specialties for the health care providers with whom they have utilized the agreement.
(H) In all agreements with the WC/MCO and any other provider of services, the agreement shall contain the following provision: “It is the intent of the parties to this agreement to insure quality services that meet all uniform treatment standards required by Georgia law, and any provision herein which may be inconsistent with that intent shall be void.”
(I) The WC/MCO must submit a statement certifying that all licensing requirements for the providers and medical case managers are current and in good standing in Georgia or the state in which the provider is practicing.
(J) The WC/MCO must provide a referral for specialty services that are not specified in subparagraph (E) and that may be reasonable and necessary to effect a cure or give relief as required under O.C.G.A. § 34-9-200. The employer or the workers’ compensation insurance carrier remains liable for any health service required under the Workers’ Compensation Act, provided that the services meet all other requirements of the Workers’ Compensation Act.
(K) The WC/MCO must include procedures to insure that employees will receive services in accordance with the following criteria:
(i) The medical case manager shall inform the employee of his right to choose from the providers designated in Rule 208(a)(1)(E), inform the employee that a list of medical providers is available and provide assistance in obtaining the list if necessary. The medical case manager shall assist the employee in choosing a provider appropriate to the injury. The physician so chosen shall be deemed the “authorized treating physician” for all purposes under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Employees must be allowed to change authorized treating physicians within the managed care plan at least once without proceeding through the managed care plan’s dispute resolution process. In such cases, employees shall give notice to the manage care plan for a change in their authorized treating physician;
(ii) Employees must be able to receive information on a 24-hour basis regarding the availability of necessary medical services available within the managed care plan. The information may be provided through recorded toll-free telephone messages after normal working hours. The message must include information on how the employee can obtain emergency services or other urgently needed care and how the employee can access an evaluation within a reasonable time after request;
(iii) Employees must receive initial evaluation by a participating licensed health care provider within twenty-four hours after the employee’s request for treatment, following a work-related injury;
(iv) In cases where the employee has received treatment for the work injury by a health care provider outside the managed care plan, the employee must receive initial evaluation or treatment by a participating health care provider within five (5) working days of the employee’s request for a change of doctor or referral to the managed care plan;
(v) Employees must receive any necessary treatment, diagnostic tests or specialty services in a manner that is timely, effective and convenient for the employee, and reasonable under the circumstances;
(vi) Employees must have reasonable access to health care providers. If the employee is medically unable to travel to a participating provider, the managed care plan shall refer the employee to an available or non-participating provider to receive necessary treatment for the injury.
(L) The WC/MCO must designate the procedures for approval of services from a health care provider outside the managed care plan.
(M) The WC/MCO must include a procedure for peer review and utilization, consistent with Rule 208(g).
(N) The WC/MCO must include a procedure for internal dispute resolution, including a method to resolve complaints by injured employees, medical providers, employers and insurers.
(O) The WC/MCO must inform employees of all choices of medical services provided within the plan and how employees can gain access to those providers including but not limited to a wallet-sized card containing this information in a format suitable for carrying on the employee’s person. The plan must submit a proposed publication which may be customized according to the needs of the employer, but must include the information required in Rule 201(a)(3) and must also include a complete list of all WC/MCO medical providers in the applicable geographical service area. All employees of covered employers shall be provided with the publication.
(P) The WC/MCO must provide the information required by Rule 208(h) and describe how medical case management will be provided for injured employees, and an effective program for return-to-work and cooperative efforts by the employees, the employer and the managed care plan to promote workplace health and safety and other services.
(Q) The WC/MCO must provide such other information as the Board considers necessary to determine compliance with the Workers’ Compensation Act.
(2) Within 60 days of receipt of an application, the Board must notify an applicant for certification of any additional information required or modification that must be made. The Board must notify the applicant in writing of the approval or denial of certification within 60 days of receipt of the additional information or modification. If certification is denied, the applicant must be provided, in writing, with the reason or reasons for the denial.
(3) Any person aggrieved by a denial of certification by the Board may make written request for a hearing within 30 days of the date the denial is served and filed. The Appellate Division shall hold all hearings and issue a final decision.
(b) Coverage responsibility of WC/MCO.
(1) A WC/MCO must contract with the employer or the workers’ compensation insurer of an employer. In the event multiple WC/MCO’s are contracted to cover the same employer, each employee shall have the initial election of the WC/MCO that will manage the employee’s care, and utilization of a WC/MCO will be deemed an election.
(2) An employee who gives notice to an employer of a compensable injury shall receive medical services in the manner prescribed by the terms and conditions of the WC/MCO contract in effect at the time medical services are rendered.
(3) To insure continuity of care, the WC/MCO contract shall specify the manner in which an injured employee will receive medical services when a WC/MCO contract or contract with the health care provider terminates. The employee may continue to treat with the health care provider or the WC/MCO under the terminating contract until such time as the employee elects to utilize the employer’s current posted panel of physicians, conformed panel of physicians or WC/MCO, or a change of physician is granted.
(c) Reporting requirements for Board certified WC/MCO’s.
(1) A WC/MCO shall provide the Board with a copy of the following contracts:
(A) Contracts between the WC/MCO and any employer or workers’ compensation insurer, prior to utilization of the contract. If the Board does not issue a written approval or denial within 90 days, then the contract shall be approved. Any contract rejected by the Board shall be deemed void for purposes of this Rule. Standard contracts may be submitted instead of individual contracts if no modifications are made. Standard contracts must include a list of signatories and a listing of all employers covered by each contract, including the employers’ name, business address and estimated number of employees governed by the WC/MCO. Amendments and addendums to the contracts must be submitted to the Board within 30 days of execution. Contract provisions must be consistent with O.C.G.A. § 34-9-208 and this Rule. The contract must specify the billing and payment procedures and how the medical case management and return-to-work functions will be coordinated.
(B) New types of agreements between participating health care providers and the WC/MCO that are not identical to the agreements previously submitted to the Board shall not be effective until approved by the Board. Any contract which is neither approved nor rejected by the Board within 90 days from submission shall be deemed approved.
(C) Contracts between the WC/MCO and any entity, other than individual participating providers that performs some of the functions of the WC/MCO.
(D) Any changes in the individuals or information required by Board Rule 208(a)(1)(B)(1)-(5).
(2) In order to maintain certification, each WC/MCO shall provide on the first working day following each anniversary of certification the following information in the form of a certified annual report:
(A) A current listing of all individuals identified in Board Rule 208(a)(1)(B)(1)-(5) and all participating health care providers, including provider names, types of license, specialty, business address, telephone number and a statement that all licenses are current and in good standing;
(B) A summary of any sanctions or punitive actions taken by the WC/MCO against any participating providers;
(C) A report that summarizes peer review, utilization review, supplier profiles, reported complaints and dispute resolution proceedings showing cases reviewed, issues involved, and any action taken; and
(D) An audited financial statement for the most recent fiscal year, upon request of the Board.
(E) The annual report must be accompanied by a non-refundable fee of $500.00.
(3) Any proposed changes to the Board certified WC/MCO falling within the categories enumerated below, other than changes to the health care provider list, may not be implemented under the plan until approved by the Board:
(A) Amendments to any contract with participating health care providers;
(B) Amendments to contracts between the WC/MCO and another entity performing functions of the managed care plan; and
(C) Any other amendments to the WC/MCO as certified.
(4) The WC/MCO must report to the employer or insurer any data regarding medical services and suppliers related to the workers’ compensation claim required by the self-insured employer or insurer to determine compensability under the Workers’ Compensation Act, and any other data required by the Board. The Board may require additional information from the managed care organization if the information is relevant to the Workers’ Compensation Act.
(d) Commencement and termination of contract between the WC/MCO and participating providers.
(1) Prospective new participating health care providers under a WC/MCO shall submit an application to the WC/MCO. A director, executive director or administrator may approve the application under the requirements of the WC/MCO. The managed care plan shall verify that each new participating health care provider meets all licensing, registration and certification requirements necessary to practice in Georgia or other applicable state of practice.
(2) A participating provider may elect to terminate participation in the WC/MCO or to be subject to cancellation by the managed care plan under the requirements of the managed care plan. Upon termination of a provider contract, the managed care plan shall make alternate arrangements to provide continuing medical services for an affected injured employee under the plan in compliance with Board Rule 208(b)(3).
(e) A health care provider who is not a participating health care provider may provide medical services to an employee covered by a WC/MCO in any other circumstances provided below:
(1) Emergency treatment;
(2) When the employee is referred to the provider by the managed care organization;
(3) By order of the Board, or by consent of the parties.
(f) Disputes which arise on an issue related to managed care shall first be processed without charge through the dispute resolution process of the WC/MCO. The WC/MCO dispute resolution process must be completed within 30 days of a written notice. If the dispute cannot be resolved, the WC/MCO must immediately notify the employer or insurer. If the dispute involves treatment/test prescribed by the authorized treating physician, the employer or insurer must follow the procedure outlined in Rule 205.
(g) Utilization review and peer review.
(1) The WC/MCO must implement a system for peer review to improve patient care and cost effectiveness of treatment. Peer review must include a majority of health care providers of the same discipline being reviewed. The peer review must be designed to evaluate the quality of care given by a health care provider to a patient or patients. The plan must describe in its application for certification how the providers will be selected for review, the nature of the review and how the results will be used.
(2) The WC/MCO must implement a plan for utilization review. The program must profile each medical supplier and include the collection, review, analysis of group data (utilizing CPT-4 codes) to improve overall quality of care, efficient use of resources and duration of disability. In its application for certification, the WC/MCO must specify the data that will be collected, how the data will be analyzed and how the results will be applied to improve patient care and increase cost effectiveness of treatment.
(h) Medical case management.
(1) The medical case manager must monitor, evaluate and coordinate the delivery of quality, cost effective medical treatment and other health services needed by an injured employee, and must promote an appropriate, prompt return to work. Medical case managers must facilitate communication between the employee, employee’s representative, employer, employer’s representative, insurer, health care provider, WC/MCO and, when authorized, any qualified rehabilitation consultant to achieve these goals. The WC/MCO must describe in its application for certification how injured employees will be subject to case management, the services to be provided, and who will provide services.
(2) Case management for an employee covered by a WC/MCO must be provided by a licensed registered health care professional holding one of the following certifications: Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN), Certified Case Manager (CCM), Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN), Certified Occupation Health Nurse Specialist (COHN-S), Certified Disability Management Specialist (CDMS), Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), Work Adjustment/Vocational Evaluation Specialist (WAVES), or Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Case managers must have at least one year experience in workers’ compensation. In catastrophic cases, case management must include assignment to a Board-registered rehabilitation supplier, who has been designated by the board as qualified to manage catastrophic cases (Rule 200.1 (f)(4)). If qualified, the case manager may register with the Board to serve as the catastrophic rehabilitation supplier.
(3) The parties to the claim and their representatives shall cooperate with medical case management services when such services are being provided by a WC/MCO which has been certified pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-208 and Board Rule 208 and which has posted a WC-P3 panel. The unreasonable refusal to cooperate with or the unreasonable interference with medical case management services by any party or its representative may subject that party or its representative to civil penalties pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-18. The employer/insurer may suspend weekly benefits for the failure of the employee to cooperate with medical case management only by order of the Board.
(i) Monitoring records.
(1) The Board shall monitor and may conduct audits and special examinations of the WC/MCO as necessary to insure compliance with the WC/MCO certification and performance requirements.
(2) All records of the WC/MCO and its participating health care providers relevant to determining compliance with the Workers’ Compensation Act shall be disclosed in a reasonable time after request by the Board. Records must be legible and cannot be kept in a coded or semi-coded manner unless a ledger is provided for codes.
(3) The release of records filed with the Board must clearly identify the portions of the application or records which are believed to be non-public trade secret data or otherwise confidential.
(j) Suspension; revocation.
(1) The WC/MCO shall work with all parties and their representatives in a reasonable manner consistent with the purposes of this Act. Complaints pertaining to violations by the WC/MCO shall be directed in writing to the Board. Upon receipt of a written complaint or after monitoring the managed care plan operation, the Board shall investigate the alleged violation. The investigation may include, but shall not be limited to, requests for and review of pertinent managed care records. If the investigation reveals reasonable cause to believe that there has been a violation warranting suspension or revocation of certification, the Board shall schedule a hearing.
(2) The certification of any WC/MCO issued by the Board may be suspended or revoked, in the discretion of the Board, if the WC/MCO fails to meet any of the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 34-9-208 or Board Rule 208.
(3) For purposes of this Rule, “suspension” and its variations means the cessation of the WC/MCO’s authority to enter into new contracts with employers or insurers for a specified period of time up to a maximum of one (1) year. Upon suspension, the WC/MCO may continue to provide services in accordance with the contracts in effect at the time of the suspension. A suspension may be set aside prior to the end of the designated suspension period if it is shown to the satisfaction of the Board that the WC/MCO is in compliance. Furthermore, if it is shown that the WC/MCO is not in compliance immediately prior to the end of the designated suspension period, the suspension may be extended without further hearing, or revocation proceedings may be initiated.
(4) For purposes of this Rule, “revocation” and its variations means a revocation of a WC/MCO’s certification to provide services under these Rules. If the WC/MCO certification is revoked, no employee is covered by the contract between the WC/MCO and the employer or workers’ compensation carrier. However, upon revocation of certification, the WC/MCO may continue to provide services under contracts in effect to the extent the Board determines that it is necessary for injured employees to continue to receive medical services in that manner.
(5) Suspension or revocation under this Rule will not be made until the WC/MCO has been given notice and the opportunity to be heard through a show-cause hearing before the Board. The Board shall provide the WC/MCO written notice of an intent to suspend or revoke the WC/MCO’s certification and the grounds for such action. The notice shall also advise the WC/MCO of the right to participate in the show-cause hearing and specify the date, time and place of the hearing. The notice shall be issued from the Board at least twenty-one (21) days prior to the scheduled date of the hearing. After the show-cause hearing, the Board may issue a final order suspending or revoking the WC/MCO’s certification.
(6) Upon revocation of a WC/MCO’s certification, the employer or the workers’ compensation insurer of an employer with whom the revoked WC/MCO had been contracted to provide managed care shall make alternate arrangements to provide continuing medical services for injured employees who had been receiving medical care through the revoked WC/MCO. Any injured employee receiving medical services through a WC/MCO prior to revocation of the WC/MCO’s certification may continue to treat with one of the individual health care providers with whom the employee had received medical services prior to revocation until such time as the employee elects to utilize the employer’s replacement posted panel of physicians, conformed panel of physicians or WC/MCO, or a change of physician is ordered.