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WAC 284-170-350

Issuer standards for women's right to directly access certain health care practitioners for women's health care services.

(1)(a) "Women's health care services" means organized services to provide health care to women, inclusive of the women's preventive services required by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The services include, but are not limited to, maternity care, reproductive health services, gynecological care, general examination, and preventive care as medically appropriate, and medically appropriate follow-up visits for these services. Women's health care services also include any appropriate health care service for other health problems, discovered and treated during the course of a visit to a women's health care practitioner for a women's health care service, which is within the practitioner's scope of practice. For purposes of determining a woman's right to directly access health services covered by the plan, maternity care, reproductive health, and preventive services include: Contraceptive services, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy termination, breast-feeding, and complications of pregnancy.
(b) An issuer must not exclude or limit access to covered women's health care services offered by a particular type of women's health care provider, practitioner, or facility in a manner that would unreasonably restrict access to that type of provider, practitioner, or facility or covered service. For example, an issuer must not impose a limitation on maternity services that would require all child birth to occur in a hospital attended by a physician, thus preventing a woman from choosing between and using the birthing services of an advanced registered nurse practitioner, a certified midwife, or a licensed midwife.
(c) An issuer must not impose notification or prior authorization requirements upon women's health care practitioners, providers, and facilities who render women's health care services or upon women who directly access such services unless such requirements are imposed upon other providers offering similar types of service. For example, an issuer must not require a directly accessed women's health care practitioner to notify the plan within seven days of providing direct women's health care services if a primary care provider would not also be required to provide seven-day notice to the issuer for the same or similar service.
(2) An issuer must not deny coverage for medically appropriate laboratory services, imaging services, diagnostic services, or prescriptions for pharmaceutical or medical supplies, which are ordered by a directly accessed women's health care practitioner, and which are within the practitioner's scope of practice, if such services would be covered when provided by another type of health care practitioner. An issuer must not require authorization by another type of health care practitioner for these services. For example, if the issuer would cover a prescription if the prescription had been written by the primary care provider, the issuer must cover the prescription written by the directly accessed women's health care practitioner.
(3)(a) All issuers must permit each female enrollee of a health plan to directly access providers or practitioners for appropriate covered women's health care services without prior referral from another health care practitioner.
(b) An issuer may limit direct access to those women's health care practitioners who have signed participating provider agreements with the issuer for a specific health plan network. Irrespective of the financial arrangements an issuer may have with participating providers, an issuer may not limit and must not permit a network provider to limit access to a subset of participating women's health care practitioners within the network. Such an impermissible limitation might arise when a primary care provider's group practice receives a capitation payment for comprehensive care to an enrollee and then represents to the enrollee that only those gynecologists in the primary care provider's clinic are available for direct access. Nothing in this subsection must be interpreted to prohibit an issuer from contracting with a provider to render limited health care services.
(c) Every issuer must include in each provider network a sufficient number of each type of practitioner included in the definition of women's health care practitioners in RCW 48.42.100(2). A "sufficient number" means enough to reasonably ensure that enrollees can exercise their right of direct access within their service area, based on the number of providers with women's health care service in the scope of their license, and the number of enrollees. An issuer must demonstrate the basis on which it determined the sufficiency of the number and type of providers under this section.
(d) A woman's right to directly access practitioners for health care services, as provided under RCW 48.42.100, includes the right to obtain appropriate women's health care services ordered by the practitioner from a participating facility used by the practitioner.
(4) To inform enrollees of their rights under RCW 48.42.100, all issuers must include in enrollee handbooks a written explanation of a woman's right to directly access covered women's health care services. Enrollee handbooks must include information regarding any limitations to direct access, including, but not limited to:
(a) Limited direct access based on a benefit plan's closed network of practitioners, if appropriate; and
(b) The issuer's right to limit coverage to medically necessary and appropriate women's health care services.
(5) No issuer shall impose cost-sharing, such as copayments or deductibles, for directly accessed women's health care services, that are not required for access to health care practitioners acting as primary care providers.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 48.02.060. WSR 16-07-144 (Matter No. R 2016-01), recodified as § 284-170-350, filed 3/23/16, effective 4/23/16. WSR 16-01-081, recodified as § 284-43-9982, filed 12/14/15, effective 12/14/15. Statutory Authority: RCW 48.02.060, 48.18.120, 48.20.460, 48.43.505, 48.43.510, 48.43.515, 48.43.530, 48.43.535, 48.44.050, 48.46.200, 48.20.450, 48.44.020, 48.44.080, 48.46.030, 45 C.F.R. §§ 156.230, 156.235, and 156.245. WSR 14-10-017 (Matter No. R 2013-22), § 284-43-250, filed 4/25/14, effective 5/26/14. Statutory Authority: RCW 48.02.060, 48.18.120, 48.20.450, 48.20.460, 48.30.010, 48.44.050, 48.46.030, 48.46.200. WSR 00-04-034 (Matter No. R 99-2), § 284-43-250, filed 1/24/00, effective 2/24/00. Statutory Authority: RCW 48.02.060, 48.20.450, 48.20.460, 48.30.010, 48.44.020, 48.44.050, 48.44.080, 48.46.030, 48.46.060(2), 48.46.200 and 48.46.243. WSR 98-04-005 (Matter No. R 97-3), § 284-43-250, filed 1/22/98, effective 2/22/98.]
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