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Legal Resources | Labor Code |  LC  4600.6  

Workers' Compensation   

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Any workers' compensation insurer, third-party administrator, or other entity seeking certification as a health care organization under subdivision (e) of Section 4600.5 shall be subject to the following rules and procedures:

(a) Each application for authorization as an organization under subdivision (e) of Section 4600.5 shall be verified by an authorized representative of the applicant and shall be in a form prescribed by the administrative director. The application shall be accompanied by the prescribed fee and shall set forth or be accompanied by each and all of the following:

(1) The basic organizational documents of the applicant, such as the articles of incorporation, articles of association, partnership agreement, trust agreement, or other applicable documents and all amendments thereto.

(2) A copy of the bylaws, rules, and regulations, or similar documents regulating the conduct of the internal affairs of the applicant.

(3) A list of the names, addresses, and official positions of the persons who are to be responsible for the conduct of the affairs of the applicant, which shall include, among others, all members of the board of directors, board of trustees, executive committee, or other governing board or committee, the principal officers, each shareholder with over 5 percent interest in the case of a corporation, and all partners or members in the case of a partnership or association, and each person who has loaned funds to the applicant for the operation of its business.

(4) A copy of any contract made, or to be made, between the applicant and any provider of health care, or persons listed in paragraph (3), or any other person or organization agreeing to perform an administrative function or service for the plan. The administrative director by rule may identify contracts excluded from this requirement and make provision for the submission of form contracts. The payment rendered or to be rendered to the provider of health care services shall be deemed confidential information that shall not be divulged by the administrative director, except that the payment may be disclosed and become a public record in any legislative, administrative, or judicial proceeding or inquiry. The organization shall also submit the name and address of each provider employed by, or contracting with, the organization, together with his or her license number.

(5) A statement describing the organization, its method of providing for health services, and its physical facilities. If applicable, this statement shall include the health care delivery capabilities of the organization, including the number of full-time and part-time physicians under Section 3209.3, the numbers and types of licensed or state-certified health care support staff, the number of hospital beds contracted for, and the arrangements and the methods by which health care will be provided, as defined by the administrative director under Sections 4600.3 and 4600.5.

(6) A copy of the disclosure forms or materials that are to be issued to employees.

(7) A copy of the form of the contract that is to be issued to any employer, insurer of an employer, or a group of self-insured employers.

(8) Financial statements accompanied by a report, certificate, or opinion of an independent certified public accountant. However, the financial statements from public entities or political subdivisions of the state need not include a report, certificate, or opinion by an independent certified public accountant if the financial statement complies with any requirements that may be established by regulation of the administrative director.

(9) A description of the proposed method of marketing the organization and a copy of any contract made with any person to solicit on behalf of the organization or a copy of the form of agreement used and a list of the contracting parties.

(10) A statement describing the service area or areas to be served, including the service location for each provider rendering professional services on behalf of the organization and the location of any other organization facilities where required by the administrative director.

(11) A description of organization grievance procedures to be utilized as required by this part, and a copy of the form specified by paragraph (3) of subdivision (j).

(12) A description of the procedures and programs for internal review of the quality of health care pursuant to the requirements set forth in this part.

(13) Evidence of adequate insurance coverage or self-insurance to respond to claims for damages arising out of the furnishing of workers' compensation health care.

(14) Evidence of adequate insurance coverage or self-insurance to protect against losses of facilities where required by the administrative director.

(15) Evidence of adequate workers' compensation coverage to protect against claims arising out of work-related injuries that might be brought by the employees and staff of an organization against the organization.

(16) Evidence of fidelity bonds in such amount as the administrative director prescribes by regulation.

(17) Other information that the administrative director may reasonably require.

(b) (1) An organization, solicitor, solicitor firm, or representative may not use or permit the use of any advertising or solicitation that is untrue or misleading, or any form of disclosure that is deceptive. For purposes of this chapter:

(A) A written or printed statement or item of information shall be deemed untrue if it does not conform to fact in any respect that is or may be significant to an employer or employee, or potential employer or employee.

(B) A written or printed statement or item of information shall be deemed misleading whether or not it may be literally true, if, in the total context in which the statement is made or the item of information is communicated, the statement or item of information may be understood by a person not possessing special knowledge regarding health care coverage, as indicating any benefit or advantage, or the absence of any exclusion, limitation, or disadvantage of possible significance to an employer or employee, or potential employer or employee.

(C) A disclosure form shall be deemed to be deceptive if the disclosure form taken as a whole and with consideration given to typography and format, as well as language, shall be such as to cause a reasonable person, not possessing special knowledge of workers' compensation health care, and the disclosure form therefor, to expect benefits, service charges, or other advantages that the disclosure form does not provide or that the organization issuing that disclosure form does not regularly make available to employees.

(2) An organization, solicitor, or representative may not use or permit the use of any verbal statement that is untrue, misleading, or deceptive or make any representations about health care offered by the organization or its cost that does not conform to fact. All verbal statements are to be held to the same standards as those for printed matter provided in paragraph (1).

(c) It is unlawful for any person, including an organization, subject to this part, to represent or imply in any manner that the person or organization has been sponsored, recommended, or approved, or that the person's or organization's abilities or qualifications have in any respect been passed upon, by the administrative director.

(d) (1) An organization may not publish or distribute, or allow to be published or distributed on its behalf, any advertisement unless (A) a true copy thereof has first been filed with the administrative director, at least 30 days prior to any such use, or any shorter period as the administrative director by rule or order may allow, and (B) the administrative director by notice has not found the advertisement, wholly or in part, to be untrue, misleading, deceptive, or otherwise not in compliance with this part or the rules thereunder, and specified the deficiencies, within the 30 days or any shorter time as the administrative director by rule or order may allow.

(2) If the administrative director finds that any advertisement of an organization has materially failed to comply with this part or the rules thereunder, the administrative director may, by order, require the organization to publish in the same or similar medium, an approved correction or retraction of any untrue, misleading, or deceptive statement contained in the advertising.

(3) The administrative director by rule or order may classify organizations and advertisements and exempt certain classes, wholly or in part, either unconditionally or upon specified terms and conditions or for specified periods, from the application of subdivision (a).

(e) (1) The administrative director shall require the use by each organization of disclosure forms or materials containing any information regarding the health care and terms of the workers' compensation health care contract that the administrative director may require, so as to afford the public, employers, and employees with a full and fair disclosure of the provisions of the contract in readily understood language and in a clearly organized manner. The administrative director may require that the materials be presented in a reasonably uniform manner so as to facilitate comparisons between contracts of the same or other types of organizations. The disclosure form shall describe the health care that is required by the administrative director under Sections 4600.3 and 4600.5, and shall provide that all information be in concise and specific terms, relative to the contract, together with any additional information as may be required by the administrative director, in connection with the organization or contract.

(2) All organizations, solicitors, and representatives of a workers' compensation health care provider organization shall, when presenting any contract for examination or sale to a prospective employee, provide the employee with a properly completed disclosure form, as prescribed by the administrative director pursuant to this section for each contract so examined or sold.

(3) In addition to the other disclosures required by this section, every organization and any agent or employee of the organization shall, when representing an organization for examination or sale to any individual purchaser or the representative of a group consisting of 25 or fewer individuals, disclose in writing the ratio of premium cost to health care paid for contracts with individuals and with groups of the same or similar size for the organization's preceding fiscal year. An organization may report that information by geographic area, provided the organization identifies the geographic area and reports information applicable to that geographic area.

(4) Where the administrative director finds it necessary in the interest of full and fair disclosure, all advertising and other consumer information disseminated by an organization for the purpose of influencing persons to become members of an organization shall contain any supplemental disclosure information that the administrative director may require.

(f) When the administrative director finds it necessary in the interest of full and fair disclosure, all advertising and other consumer information disseminated by an organization for the purpose of influencing persons to become members of an organization shall contain any supplemental disclosure information that the administrative director may require.

(g) (1) An organization may not refuse to enter into any contract, or may not cancel or decline to renew or reinstate any contract, because of the age or any characteristic listed or defined in subdivision (b) or (e) of Section 51 of the Civil Code of any contracting party, prospective contracting party, or person reasonably expected to benefit from that contract as an employee or otherwise.

(2) The terms of any contract shall not be modified, and the benefits or coverage of any contract shall not be subject to any limitations, exceptions, exclusions, reductions, copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, reservations, or premium, price, or charge differentials, or other modifications because of the age or any characteristic listed or defined in subdivision (b) or (e) of Section 51 of the Civil Code of any contracting party, potential contracting party, or person reasonably expected to benefit from that contract as an employee or otherwise; except that premium, price, or charge differentials because of the sex or age of any individual when based on objective, valid, and up-to-date statistical and actuarial data are not prohibited. Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit an organization to charge different rates to individual employees within the same group solely on the basis of the employee's sex.

(3) It shall be deemed a violation of subdivision (a) for any organization to utilize marital status, living arrangements, occupation, gender, beneficiary designation, ZIP Codes or other territorial classification, or any combination thereof for the purpose of establishing sexual orientation. Nothing in this section shall be construed to alter in any manner the existing law prohibiting organizations from conducting tests for the presence of human immunodeficiency virus or evidence thereof.

(4) This section shall not be construed to limit the authority of the administrative director to adopt or enforce regulations prohibiting discrimination because of sex, marital status, or sexual orientation.

(h) (1) An organization may not use in its name any of the words "insurance," "casualty," "health care service plan," "health plan," "surety," "mutual," or any other words descriptive of the health plan, insurance, casualty, or surety business or use any name similar to the name or description of any health care service plan, insurance, or surety corporation doing business in this state unless that organization controls or is controlled by an entity licensed as a health care service plan or insurer pursuant to the Health and Safety Code or the Insurance Code and the organization employs a name related to that of the controlled or controlling entity.

(2) Section 2415 of the Business and Professions Code, pertaining to fictitious names, does not apply to organizations certified under this section.

(3) An organization or solicitor firm may not adopt a name style that is deceptive, or one that could cause the public to believe the organization is affiliated with or recommended by any governmental or private entity unless this affiliation or endorsement exists.

(i) Each organization shall meet the following requirements:

(1) All facilities located in this state, including, but not limited to, clinics, hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities, to be utilized by the organization shall be licensed by the State Department of Health Services, if that licensure is required by law. Facilities not located in this state shall conform to all licensing and other requirements of the jurisdiction in which they are located.

(2) All personnel employed by or under contract to the organization shall be licensed or certified by their respective board or agency, where that licensure or certification is required by law.

(3) All equipment required to be licensed or registered by law shall be so licensed or registered and the operating personnel for that equipment shall be licensed or certified as required by law.

(4) The organization shall furnish services in a manner providing continuity of care and ready referral of patients to other providers at any time as may be appropriate and consistent with good professional practice.

(5) All health care shall be readily available at reasonable times to all employees. To the extent feasible, the organization shall make all health care readily accessible to all employees.

(6) The organization shall employ and utilize allied health manpower for the furnishing of health care to the extent permitted by law and consistent with good health care practice.

(7) The organization shall have the organizational and administrative capacity to provide services to employees. The organization shall be able to demonstrate to the department that health care decisions are rendered by qualified providers, unhindered by fiscal and administrative management.

(8) All contracts with employers, insurers of employers, and self-insured employers and all contracts with providers, and other persons furnishing services, equipment, or facilities to or in connection with the workers' compensation health care organization, shall be fair, reasonable, and consistent with the objectives of this part.

(9) Each organization shall provide to employees all workers' compensation health care required by this code. The administrative director shall not determine the scope of workers' compensation health care to be offered by an organization.

(j) (1) Every organization shall establish and maintain a grievance system approved by the administrative director under which employees may submit their grievances to the organization. Each system shall provide reasonable procedures in accordance with regulations adopted by the administrative director that shall ensure adequate consideration of employee grievances and rectification when appropriate.

(2) Every organization shall inform employees upon enrollment and annually thereafter of the procedures for processing and resolving grievances. The information shall include the location and telephone number where grievances may be submitted.

(3) Every organization shall provide forms for complaints to be given to employees who wish to register written complaints. The forms used by organizations shall be approved by the administrative director in advance as to format.

(4) The organization shall keep in its files all copies of complaints, and the responses thereto, for a period of five years.

(k) Every organization shall establish procedures in accordance with regulations of the administrative director for continuously reviewing the quality of care, performance of medical personnel, utilization of services and facilities, and costs. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, there shall be no monetary liability on the part of, and no cause of action for damages shall arise against, any person who participates in quality of care or utilization reviews by peer review committees that are composed chiefly of physicians, as defined by Section 3209.3, for any act performed during the reviews if the person acts without malice, has made a reasonable effort to obtain the facts of the matter, and believes that the action taken is warranted by the facts, and neither the proceedings nor the records of the reviews shall be subject to discovery, nor shall any person in attendance at the reviews be required to testify as to what transpired thereat. Disclosure of the proceedings or records to the governing body of an organization or to any person or entity designated by the organization to review activities of the committees shall not alter the status of the records or of the proceedings as privileged communications.

The above prohibition relating to discovery or testimony does not apply to the statements made by any person in attendance at a review who is a party to an action or proceeding the subject matter of which was reviewed, or to any person requesting hospital staff privileges, or in any action against an insurance carrier alleging bad faith by the carrier in refusing to accept a settlement offer within the policy limits, or to the administrative director in conducting surveys pursuant to subdivision (o).

This section shall not be construed to confer immunity from liability on any workers' compensation health care organization. In any case in which, but for the enactment of the preceding provisions of this section, a cause of action would arise against an organization, the cause of action shall exist notwithstanding the provisions of this section.

() Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent an organization from utilizing subcommittees to participate in peer review activities, nor to prevent an organization from delegating the responsibilities required by subdivision (i) as it determines to be appropriate, to subcommittees including subcommittees composed of a majority of nonphysician health care providers licensed pursuant to the Business and Professions Code, as long as the organization controls the scope of authority delegated and may revoke all or part of this authority at any time. Persons who participate in the subcommittees shall be entitled to the same immunity from monetary liability and actions for civil damages as persons who participate in organization or provider peer review committees pursuant to subdivision (i).

(m) Every organization shall have and shall demonstrate to the administrative director that it has all of the following:

(1) Adequate provision for continuity of care.

(2) A procedure for prompt payment and denial of provider claims.

(n) Every contract between an organization and an employer or insurer of an employer, and every contract between any organization and a provider of health care, shall be in writing.

(o) (1) The administrative director shall conduct periodically an onsite medical survey of the health care delivery system of each organization. The survey shall include a review of the procedures for obtaining health care, the procedures for regulating utilization, peer review mechanisms, internal procedures for assuring quality of care, and the overall performance of the organization in providing health care and meeting the health needs of employees.

(2) The survey shall be conducted by a panel of qualified health professionals experienced in evaluating the delivery of workers' compensation health care. The administrative director shall be authorized to contract with professional organizations or outside personnel to conduct medical surveys. These organizations or personnel shall have demonstrated the ability to objectively evaluate the delivery of this health care.

(3) Surveys performed pursuant to this section shall be conducted as often as deemed necessary by the administrative director to assure the protection of employees, but not less frequently than once every three years. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the survey team to visit each clinic, hospital, office, or facility of the organization.

(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the medical survey team to review peer review proceedings and records conducted and compiled under this section or in medical records. However, the administrative director shall be authorized to require onsite review of these peer review proceedings and records or medical records where necessary to determine that quality health care is being delivered to employees. Where medical record review is authorized, the survey team shall ensure that the confidentiality of the physician-patient relationship is safeguarded in accordance with existing law and neither the survey team nor the administrative director or the administrative director's staff may be compelled to disclose this information except in accordance with the physician-patient relationship. The administrative director shall ensure that the confidentiality of the peer review proceedings and records is maintained. The disclosure of the peer review proceedings and records to the administrative director or the medical survey team shall not alter the status of the proceedings or records as privileged and confidential communications.

(5) The procedures and standards utilized by the survey team shall be made available to the organizations prior to the conducting of medical surveys.

(6) During the survey, the members of the survey team shall offer such advice and assistance to the organization as deemed appropriate.

(7) The administrative director shall notify the organization of deficiencies found by the survey team. The administrative director shall give the organization a reasonable time to correct the deficiencies, and failure on the part of the organization to comply to the administrative director's satisfaction shall constitute cause for disciplinary action against the organization.

(8) Reports of all surveys, deficiencies, and correction plans shall be open to public inspection, except that no surveys, deficiencies or correction plans shall be made public unless the organization has had an opportunity to review the survey and file a statement of response within 30 days, to be attached to the report.

(p) (1) All records, books, and papers of an organization, management company, solicitor, solicitor firm, and any provider or subcontractor providing medical or other services to an organization, management company, solicitor, or solicitor firm shall be open to inspection during normal business hours by the administrative director.

(2) To the extent feasible, all the records, books, and papers described in paragraph (1) shall be located in this state. In examining those records outside this state, the administrative director shall consider the cost to the organization, consistent with the effectiveness of the administrative director's examination, and may upon reasonable notice require that these records, books, and papers, or a specified portion thereof, be made available for examination in this state, or that a true and accurate copy of these records, books, and papers, or a specified portion thereof, be furnished to the administrative director.

(q) (1) The administrative director shall conduct an examination of the administrative affairs of any organization, and each person with whom the organization has made arrangements for administrative, or management services, as often as deemed necessary to protect the interest of employees, but not less frequently than once every five years.

(2) The expense of conducting any additional or nonroutine examinations pursuant to this section, and the expense of conducting any additional or nonroutine medical surveys pursuant to subdivision (o) shall be charged against the organization being examined or surveyed. The amount shall include the actual salaries or compensation paid to the persons making the examination or survey, the expenses incurred in the course thereof, and overhead costs in connection therewith as fixed by the administrative director. In determining the cost of examinations or surveys, the administrative director may use the estimated average hourly cost for all persons performing examinations or surveys of workers' compensation health care organizations for the fiscal year. The amount charged shall be remitted by the organization to the administrative director.

(3) Reports of all examinations shall be open to public inspection, except that no examination shall be made public, unless the organization has had an opportunity to review the examination report and file a statement or response within 30 days, to be attached to the report.

(Amended by Stats. 2008, Ch. 682, Sec. 9.)