(1) The director shall supervise the providing of prompt and efficient care and treatment, including care provided by physician assistants governed by the provisions of chapters 18.57A
RCW, acting under a supervising physician, including chiropractic care, and including care provided by licensed advanced registered nurse practitioners, to workers injured during the course of their employment at the least cost consistent with promptness and efficiency, without discrimination or favoritism, and with as great uniformity as the various and diverse surrounding circumstances and locations of industries will permit and to that end shall, from time to time, establish and adopt and supervise the administration of printed forms, rules, regulations, and practices for the furnishing of such care and treatment: PROVIDED, That the medical coverage decisions of the department do not constitute a "rule" as used in RCW 34.05.010
(16), nor are such decisions subject to the rule-making provisions of chapter 34.05
RCW except that criteria for establishing medical coverage decisions shall be adopted by rule after consultation with the workers' compensation advisory committee established in RCW 51.04.110
: PROVIDED FURTHER, That the department may recommend to an injured worker particular health care services and providers where specialized treatment is indicated or where cost effective payment levels or rates are obtained by the department: AND PROVIDED FURTHER, That the department may enter into contracts for goods and services including, but not limited to, durable medical equipment so long as statewide access to quality service is maintained for injured workers.
(2) The director shall, in consultation with interested persons, establish and, in his or her discretion, periodically change as may be necessary, and make available a fee schedule of the maximum charges to be made by any physician, surgeon, chiropractor, hospital, druggist, licensed advanced registered nurse practitioner, physicians' assistants as defined in chapters 18.57A
RCW, acting under a supervising physician or other agency or person rendering services to injured workers. The department shall coordinate with other state purchasers of health care services to establish as much consistency and uniformity in billing and coding practices as possible, taking into account the unique requirements and differences between programs. No service covered under this title, including services provided to injured workers, whether aliens or other injured workers, who are not residing in the United States at the time of receiving the services, shall be charged or paid at a rate or rates exceeding those specified in such fee schedule, and no contract providing for greater fees shall be valid as to the excess. The establishment of such a schedule, exclusive of conversion factors, does not constitute "agency action" as used in RCW 34.05.010
(3), nor does such a fee schedule and its associated billing or payment instructions and policies constitute a "rule" as used in RCW 34.05.010
(3) The director or self-insurer, as the case may be, shall make a record of the commencement of every disability and the termination thereof and, when bills are rendered for the care and treatment of injured workers, shall approve and pay those which conform to the adopted rules, regulations, established fee schedules, and practices of the director and may reject any bill or item thereof incurred in violation of the principles laid down in this section or the rules, regulations, or the established fee schedules and rules and regulations adopted under it.
Report to legislature—2004 c 65:
"By December 1, 2006, the department of labor and industries shall report to the senate committee on commerce and trade and the house committee on commerce and labor, or successor committees, on the implementation of this act, including but not limited to the effects of this act on injured worker outcomes, claim costs, and disputed claims." [ 2004 c 65 § 17.
Effective date—2004 c 65:
"This act takes effect July 1, 2004." [ 2004 c 65 § 18.
Severability—2004 c 65:
"If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [ 2004 c 65 § 20.