(1) The legislature recognizes the role of health care providers as the appropriate authority to determine and establish the delivery of quality health care services to maternity patients and their newly born children. It is the intent of the legislature to recognize patient preference and the clinical sovereignty of providers as they make determinations regarding services provided and the length of time individual patients may need to remain in a health care facility after giving birth. It is not the intent of the legislature to diminish a carrier's ability to utilize managed care strategies but to ensure the clinical judgment of the provider is not undermined by restrictive carrier contracts or utilization review criteria that fail to recognize individual postpartum needs.
(2) Unless otherwise specifically provided, the following definitions apply throughout this section:
(a) "Attending provider" means a provider who: Has clinical hospital privileges consistent with RCW 70.43.020
; is included in a provider network of the carrier that is providing coverage; and is a physician licensed under chapter 18.57
RCW, a certified nurse midwife licensed under chapter 18.79
RCW, a midwife licensed under chapter 18.50
RCW, a physician's assistant licensed under chapter 18.57A
RCW, or an advanced registered nurse practitioner licensed under chapter 18.79
(b) "Health carrier" or "carrier" means disability insurers regulated under chapter 48.20
RCW, health care services contractors regulated under chapter 48.44
RCW, health maintenance organizations regulated under chapter 48.46
RCW, plans operating under the health care authority under chapter 41.05
RCW, the state health insurance pool operating under chapter 48.41
RCW, and insuring entities regulated under this chapter.
(3)(a) Every health carrier that provides coverage for maternity services must permit the attending provider, in consultation with the mother, to make decisions on the length of inpatient stay, rather than making such decisions through contracts or agreements between providers, hospitals, and insurers. These decisions must be based on accepted medical practice.
(b) Covered eligible services may not be denied for inpatient, postdelivery care to a mother and her newly born child after a vaginal delivery or a cesarean section delivery for such care as ordered by the attending provider in consultation with the mother.
(c) At the time of discharge, determination of the type and location of follow-up care must be made by the attending provider in consultation with the mother rather than by contract or agreement between the hospital and the insurer. These decisions must be based on accepted medical practice.
(d) Covered eligible services may not be denied for follow-up care, including in-person care, as ordered by the attending provider in consultation with the mother. Coverage for providers of follow-up services must include, but need not be limited to, attending providers as defined in this section, home health agencies licensed under chapter 70.127
RCW, and registered nurses licensed under chapter 18.79
(e) This section does not require attending providers to authorize care they believe to be medically unnecessary.
(f) Coverage for the newly born child must be no less than the coverage of the child's mother for no less than three weeks, even if there are separate hospital admissions.
(4) A carrier that provides coverage for maternity services may not deselect, terminate the services of, require additional documentation from, require additional utilization review of, reduce payments to, or otherwise provide financial disincentives to any attending provider or health care facility solely as a result of the attending provider or health care facility ordering care consistent with this section. This section does not prevent any insurer from reimbursing an attending provider or health care facility on a capitated, case rate, or other financial incentive basis.
(5) Every carrier that provides coverage for maternity services must provide notice to policyholders regarding the coverage required under this section. The notice must be in writing and must be transmitted at the earliest of the next mailing to the policyholder, the yearly summary of benefits sent to the policyholder, or January 1 of the year following June 6, 1996.
(6) This section does not establish a standard of medical care.
(7) This section applies to coverage for maternity services under a contract issued or renewed by a health carrier after June 6, 1996, and applies to plans operating under the health care authority under chapter 41.05
RCW beginning January 1, 1998.
Short title—1996 c 281:
"This act shall be known as "the Erin Act."" [ 1996 c 281 § 3.