(1) To effectuate the requirement of RCW 48.43.045
that health plans provide coverage for treatments and services by every category of provider, health carriers shall not exclude any category of providers licensed by the state of Washington who provide health care services or care within the scope of their practice for conditions covered by basic health plan (BHP) services as defined by RCW 48.43.005
(4). If the BHP covers the condition, the carrier may not exclude a category of provider who is licensed to provide services for that condition, and is acting within the scope of practice, unless such services would not meet the carrier's standards pursuant to RCW 48.43.045
(1)(b). For example, if the BHP provides coverage for outpatient treatment of lower back pain, any category of provider that provides cost-effective and clinically efficacious outpatient treatment for lower back pain within its scope practice and otherwise abides by standards pursuant to RCW 48.43.045
(1)(b) may not be excluded from the network.
(2) RCW 48.43.045
(1)(b) permits health carriers to require providers to abide by certain standards. These standards may not be used in a manner designed to exclude categories of providers unreasonably. For example, health carriers may not decide that a particular category of provider can never render any cost-effective or clinically efficacious services and thereby exclude that category of provider completely from health plans on that basis. However, health carriers may determine that particular services for particular conditions by particular categories of providers are not cost-effective or clinically efficacious, and may exclude such services from coverage or reimbursement under a health plan. Any such determinations must be supported by relevant information or evidence of the type usually considered and relied upon in making determinations of cost-effectiveness or clinical efficacy.
(3) Health plans are not prohibited by this section from placing reasonable limits on individual services rendered by specific categories of providers. However, health plans may not contain unreasonable limits, and may not include limits on the type of provider permitted to render the covered service unless such limits comply with RCW 48.43.045
(4) This section does not prohibit health plans from using restricted networks. Health carriers offering plans with restricted networks may select the individual providers in any category of provider with whom they will contract or whom they will reimburse. A health carrier is not required by RCW 48.43.045
or this section to accede to a request by any individual provider for inclusion in any network for any health plan. Health plans that use "gatekeepers" for access to specialist providers may use them for access to specified categories of providers.
(5) Health carriers may not offer coverage for health services for certain categories of providers solely as a separately priced optional benefit.
(6) The insurance commissioner may grant reasonable temporary extensions of time for implementation of RCW 48.43.045
or this section, or any part thereof, for good cause shown.
(7) All health carriers and their plans, provider contracts, networks and operations shall conform to the provisions of this section WAC 284-43-205
, by January 1, 2000.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 48.02.060, 48.18.120, 48.20.450, 48.20.460, 48.30.010, 48.44.050 and 48.46.200. 99-16-036 (Matter No. R 98-20), § 284-43-205, filed 7/28/99, effective 8/28/99.]