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§33-15-4s. Prior authorization.

(a) As used in this section, the following words and phrases have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Episode of Care" means a specific medical problem, condition, or specific illness being managed including tests, procedures and rehabilitation initially requested by health care practitioner, to be performed at the site of service, excluding out of network care: Provided, That any additional testing or procedures related or unrelated to the specific medical problem, condition, or specific illness being managed may require a separate prior authorization.

"National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) SCRIPT Standard" means the NCPDP SCRIPT Standard Version 201310 or the most recent standard adopted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.  Subsequently released versions may be used provided that the new version is backward compatible with the current version approved by the United States Department of Health and Human Services;

"Prior Authorization" means obtaining advance approval from a health insurer about the coverage of a service or medication.

(b)The health insurer is required to develop prior authorization forms and portals and shall accept one prior authorization for an episode of care. These forms are required to be placed in an easily identifiable and accessible place on the health insurer’s webpage. The forms shall:

(1) Include instructions for the submission of clinical documentation;

(2) Provide an electronic notification confirming receipt of the prior authorization request if forms are submitted electronically;

(3) Contain a comprehensive list of all procedures, services, drugs, devices, treatment, durable medical equipment, and anything else for which the health insurer requires a prior authorization. This list shall delineate those items which are bundled together as part of the episode of care.  The standard for including any matter on this list shall be science-based using a nationally recognized standard. This list is required to be updated at least quarterly to ensure that the list remains current;

(4) Inform the patient if the health insurer requires a plan member to use step therapy protocols, as set forth in this chapter. This must be conspicuous on the prior authorization form.  If the patient has completed step therapy as required by the health insurer and the step therapy has been unsuccessful, this shall be clearly indicated on the form, including information regarding medication or therapies which were attempted and were unsuccessful; and

(5)  Be prepared by October 1, 2019.

(c) The health insurer shall accept electronic prior authorization requests and respond to the request through electronic means by July 1, 2020. The health insurer is required to accept an electronically submitted prior authorization and may not require more than one prior authorization form for an episode of care. If the health insurer is currently accepting electronic prior authorization requests, the health insurer shall have until January 1, 2020, to implement the provisions of this section.

(d) If the health care practitioner submits the request for prior authorization electronically, and all of the information as required is provided, the health insurer shall respond to the prior authorization request within seven days from the day on the electronic receipt of the prior authorization request, except that the health insurer shall respond to the prior authorization request within two days if the request is for medical care or other service for a condition where application of the time frame for making routine or non-life-threatening care determinations is either of the following:

(1) Could seriously jeopardize the life, health, or safety of the patient or others due to the patient’s psychological state; or

(2) In the opinion of a health care practitioner with knowledge of the patient’s medical condition would subject the patient to adverse health consequences without the care or treatment that is the subject of the request.

(e) If the information submitted is considered incomplete, the health insurer shall identify all deficiencies and within two business days from the day on the electronic receipt of the prior authorization request return the prior authorization to the health care practitioner. The health care practitioner shall provide the additional information requested within three business days from the time the return request is received by the health care practitioner or the prior authorization is deemed denied and a new request must be submitted.

(f) If the health insurer wishes to audit the prior authorization or if the information regarding step therapy is incomplete, the prior authorization may be transferred to the peer review process.

(g) A prior authorization approved by a health insurer is carried over to all other managed care organizations, health insurers and the Public Employees Insurance Agency for three months, if the services are provided within the state.

(h) The health insurer shall use national best practice guidelines to evaluate a prior authorization.

(i) If a prior authorization is rejected by the health insurer and the health care practitioner who submitted the prior authorization requests an appeal by peer review of the decision to reject, the peer review shall be with a health care practitioner similar in specialty, education, and background. The health insurer’s medical director has the ultimate decision regarding the appeal determination and the health care practitioner has the option to consult with the medical director after the peer-to-peer consultation.  Time frames regarding this appeal process shall take no longer than 30 days.

(j) (1) Any prescription written for an inpatient at the time of discharge requiring a prior authorization shall not be subject to prior authorization requirements and shall be immediately approved for not less than three days:  Provided, That the cost of the medication does not exceed $5,000 per day and the physician shall note on the prescription or notify the pharmacy that the prescription is being provided at discharge. After the three-day time frame, a prior authorization must be obtained.

(2) If the approval of a prior authorization requires a medication substitution, the substituted medication shall be as required under §30-5-1 et seq.  

(k) In the event a health care practitioner has performed an average of 30 procedures per year and in a six-month time period has received a 100 percent prior approval rating, the health insurer shall not require the health care practitioner to submit a prior authorization for that procedure for the next six months. At the end of the six-month time frame, the exemption shall be reviewed prior to renewal. This exemption is subject to internal auditing, at any time, by the health insurer and may be rescinded if the health insurer determines the health care practitioner is not performing the procedure in conformity with the health insurer’s benefit plan based upon the results of the health insurer’s internal audit.

(l) The health insurer must accept and respond to electronically submitted prior authorization requests for pharmacy benefits by July 1, 2020, or if the health insurer is currently accepting electronic prior authorization requests, it shall have until January 1, 2020, to implement this provision.  The health insurer shall accept and respond to prior authorizations through a secure electronic transmission using the NCPDP SCRIPT Standard ePA transactions.

(m) This section is effective for policy, contract, plans, or agreements beginning on or after January 1, 2020. This section applies to all policies, contracts, plans, or agreements, subject to this article, that are delivered, executed, issued, amended, adjusted, or renewed in this state on or after the effective date of this section.

(n) The timeframes in this section are not applicable to prior authorization requests submitted through telephone, mail, or fax.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2017 Regular Session
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