48.49.030  <<  48.49.040 >>   48.49.050

Dispute resolution processDetermination of commercially reasonable payment amount.

(1) Effective July 1, 2023, or a later date determined by the commissioner, services described in RCW 48.49.020(1) other than air ambulance services are subject to the independent dispute resolution process established in sections 2799A-1 and 2799A-2 of the public health service act (42 U.S.C. Secs. 300gg-111 and 300gg-112) and implementing federal regulations in effect on July 1, 2023, or a later date determined by the commissioner. Until July 1, 2023, or a later date determined by the commissioner, the arbitration process in this section governs the dispute resolution process for those services.
(2) Effective July 1, 2023, or a later date determined by the commissioner, services described in RCW 48.49.020(3) are subject to the independent dispute resolution process established in section 2799A-1 and 2799A-2 of the public health service act (42 U.S.C. Secs. 300gg-111 and 300gg-112) and implementing federal regulations in effect on July 1, 2023, or a later date determined by the commissioner. Until July 1, 2023, or a later date determined by the commissioner or if the federal independent dispute resolution process is not available to the state for resolution of these disputes, the arbitration process in this section governs the dispute resolution process for those services.
(3)(a) Notwithstanding RCW 48.43.055 and 48.18.200, if good faith negotiation, as described in RCW 48.49.030, does not result in resolution of the dispute, and the carrier or nonparticipating provider, facility, or behavioral health emergency services provider chooses to pursue further action to resolve the dispute, the carrier or nonparticipating provider, facility, or behavioral health emergency services provider shall initiate arbitration to determine a commercially reasonable payment amount. To initiate arbitration, the carrier or nonparticipating provider, facility, or behavioral health emergency services provider must provide written notification to the commissioner and the noninitiating party no later than ten calendar days following completion of the period of good faith negotiation under RCW 48.49.030. The notification to the noninitiating party must state the initiating party's final offer. No later than thirty calendar days following receipt of the notification, the noninitiating party must provide its final offer to the initiating party. The parties may reach an agreement on reimbursement during this time and before the arbitration proceeding.
(b) Notwithstanding (a) of this subsection (3), where a dispute resolution matter initiated under sections 2799A-1 and 2799A-2 of the public health service act (42 U.S.C. Secs. 300gg-111 and 300gg-112) and implementing federal regulations in effect on March 31, 2022, results in a determination by a certified independent dispute resolution entity that such process does not apply to the dispute or to portions thereof, a carrier, provider, facility, or behavioral health emergency services provider may initiate arbitration described in this section for such dispute:
(i) Without completing good faith negotiation under RCW 48.49.160 if the open negotiation period required under sections 2799A-1 and 2799A-2 of the public health service act (42 U.S.C. Secs. 300gg-111 and 300gg-112) and implementing federal regulations in effect on March 31, 2022, has been completed; and
(ii) By providing written notification to the commissioner and the noninitiating party no later than 10 calendar days following the date notice is received by the parties from the certified independent dispute resolution entity that the federal independent dispute resolution process is not applicable to the dispute.
(4) Multiple claims may be addressed in a single arbitration proceeding if the claims at issue:
(a) Involve identical carrier and provider, provider group, facility, or behavioral health emergency services provider parties;
(b) Involve claims with the same procedural code, or a comparable code under a different procedural code system; and
(c) Occur within the same 30 business day period.
(5) Within seven calendar days of receipt of notification from the initiating party, the commissioner must provide the parties with a list of approved arbitrators or entities that provide arbitration. The arbitrators on the list must be trained by the American arbitration association or the American health lawyers association and must have experience in matters related to medical or health care services. The parties may agree on an arbitrator from the list provided by the commissioner. If the parties do not agree on an arbitrator, they must notify the commissioner who must provide them with the names of five arbitrators from the list. Each party may veto two of the five named arbitrators. If one arbitrator remains, that person is the chosen arbitrator. If more than one arbitrator remains, the commissioner must choose the arbitrator from the remaining arbitrators. The parties and the commissioner must complete this selection process within twenty calendar days of receipt of the original list from the commissioner.
(6) Each party must make written submissions to the arbitrator in support of its position no later than thirty calendar days after the final selection of the arbitrator. Each party must include in their written submission the evidence and methodology for asserting that the amount proposed to be paid is or is not commercially reasonable. A party that fails to make timely written submissions under this section without good cause shown shall be considered to be in default and the arbitrator shall require the party in default to pay the final offer amount submitted by the party not in default and may require the party in default to pay expenses incurred to date in the course of arbitration, including the arbitrator's expenses and fees and the reasonable attorneys' fees of the party not in default.
(7) If the parties agree on an out-of-network rate for the services at issue after providing the arbitration initiation notice to the commissioner but before the arbitrator has made their decision, the amount agreed to by the parties for the service will be treated as the out-of-network rate for the service. The initiating party must send a notification to the commissioner and to the arbitrator, as soon as possible, but no later than three business days after the date of the agreement. The notification must include the out-of-network rate for the service and signatures from authorized signatories for both parties.
(8)(a) No later than thirty calendar days after the receipt of the parties' written submissions, the arbitrator must: Issue a written decision requiring payment of the final offer amount of either the initiating party or the noninitiating party; notify the parties of its decision; and provide the decision and the information described in RCW 48.49.050 regarding the decision to the commissioner. The arbitrator's decision must include an explanation of the elements of the parties' submissions the arbitrator relied upon to make their decision and why those elements were relevant to their decision.
(b) In reviewing the submissions of the parties and making a decision related to whether payment should be made at the final offer amount of the initiating party or the noninitiating party, the arbitrator must consider the following factors:
(i) The evidence and methodology submitted by the parties to assert that their final offer amount is reasonable; and
(ii) Patient characteristics and the circumstances and complexity of the case, including time and place of service and whether the service was delivered at a level I or level II trauma center or a rural facility, that are not already reflected in the provider's billing code for the service.
(c) The arbitrator may not require extrinsic evidence of authenticity for admitting data from the Washington state all-payer claims database data set developed under RCW 43.371.100 into evidence.
(d) The arbitrator may also consider other information that a party believes is relevant to the factors included in (b) of this subsection or other factors the arbitrator requests and information provided by the parties that is relevant to such request, including the Washington state all-payer claims database data set developed under RCW 43.371.100.
(9) Expenses incurred in the course of arbitration, including the arbitrator's expenses and fees, but not including attorneys' fees, must be divided equally among the parties to the arbitration. The commissioner may establish allowable arbitrator fee ranges or an arbitrator fee schedule by rule. Arbitrator fees must be paid to the arbitrator by a party within 30 calendar days following receipt of the arbitrator's decision by the party. The enrollee is not liable for any of the costs of the arbitration and may not be required to participate in the arbitration proceeding as a witness or otherwise.
(10) Within 10 business days of a party notifying the commissioner and the noninitiating party of intent to initiate arbitration, both parties shall agree to and execute a nondisclosure agreement. The nondisclosure agreement must not preclude the arbitrator from submitting the arbitrator's decision to the commissioner under subsection (6) of this section or impede the commissioner's duty to prepare the annual report under RCW 48.49.050.
(11) The decision of the arbitrator is final and binding on the parties to the arbitration and is not subject to judicial review.
(12) Chapter 7.04A RCW applies to arbitrations conducted under this section, but in the event of a conflict between this section and chapter 7.04A RCW, this section governs.
(13) For dispute resolution proceedings initiated under RCW 48.49.135(2)(b), the arbitration provisions of this section apply except that:
(a) The issue before the arbitrator will be the commercially reasonable payment for applicable services addressed in the alternate access delivery request rather than the commercially reasonable payment for single or multiple claims under subsection (4) of this section. The arbitrator shall issue a decision related to whether payment for the applicable services should be made at the final offer amount of the carrier or the final offer amount of the provider or facility. The arbitrator's decision is final and binding on the parties for services rendered to enrollees from the effective date of the amended alternate access delivery request approved under RCW 48.49.135(2)(b) to either the expiration date of the amended alternate access delivery request, or at the time that a provider contract and provider compensation agreement are executed between the parties, whichever occurs first;
(b) During the period from the effective date of the amended alternate access delivery request to issuance of the arbitrator's decision, the allowed amount paid to providers or facilities for the applicable services addressed in the amended alternate access delivery request shall be a commercially reasonable amount, based on payments for the same or similar services provided in a similar geographic area; and
(c) The proceedings are subject to the arbitration process described in this section, and not to the independent dispute resolution process established in sections 2799A-1 and 2799A-2 of the public health service act (42 U.S.C. Secs. 300gg-111 and 300gg-112) and implementing federal regulations in effect on March 31, 2022.
(14) Air ambulance services are subject to the independent dispute resolution process established in sections 2799A-1 and 2799A-2 of the public health service act (42 U.S.C. Secs. 300gg-111 and 300gg-112) and implementing federal regulations in effect on March 31, 2022.
(15) This section applies to health care providers, facilities, or behavioral health emergency services providers providing services to members of entities administering a self-funded group health plan and its plan members only if the entity has elected to participate in RCW 48.49.020 and 48.49.030, 48.49.160, and this section as provided in RCW 48.49.130.
(16) An entity administering a self-funded group health plan that has elected to participate in this section pursuant to RCW 48.49.130 shall comply with the provisions of this section.

NOTES:

Effective date2022 c 263: See note following RCW 43.371.100.
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