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DETERMINATIONS; APPEALS

Sec1869[42 U.S.C. 1395ff] (a) Initial Determinations.—

(1) Promulgations of regulations.—The Secretary shall promulgate regulations and make initial determinations with respect to benefits under part A or part B in accordance with those regulations for the following:

(A) The initial determination of whether an individual is entitled to benefits under such parts.

(B) The initial determination of the amount of benefits available to the individual under such parts.

(C) Any other initial determination with respect to a claim for benefits under such parts, including an initial determination by the Secretary that payment may not be made, or may no longer be made, for an item or service under such parts, an initial determination made by a quality improvement[302] organization under section 1154(a)(2), and an initial determination made by an entity pursuant to a contract (other than a contract under section 1852) with the Secretary to administer provisions of this title or title XI.

(2) Deadlines for making initial determinations.—

(A) In general.—Subject to subparagraph (B), in promulgating regulations under paragraph (1), initial determinations shall be concluded by not later than the 45–day period beginning on the date the fiscal intermediary or the carrier, as the case may be, receives a claim for benefits from an individual as described in paragraph (1). Notice of such determination shall be mailed to the individual filing the claim before the conclusion of such 45–day period.

(B) Clean claims.—Subparagraph (A) shall not apply with respect to any claim that is subject to the requirements of section 1816(c)(2) or 1842(c)(2).

(3) Redeterminations.—

(A) In general.—In promulgating regulations under paragraph (1) with respect to initial determinations, such regulations shall provide for a fiscal intermediary or a carrier to make a redetermination with respect to a claim for benefits that is denied in whole or in part.

(B) Limitations.—

(i) Appeal rights.—No initial determination may be reconsidered or appealed under subsection (b) unless the fiscal intermediary or carrier has made a redetermination of that initial determination under this paragraph.

(ii) Decisionmaker.—No redetermination may be made by any individual involved in the initial determination.

(C) Deadlines.—

(i) Filing for redetermination.—A redetermination under subparagraph (A) shall be available only if notice is filed with the Secretary to request the redetermination by not later than the end of the 120–day period beginning on the date the individual receives notice of the initial determination under paragraph (2).

(ii) Concluding redeterminations.— Redeterminations shall be concluded by not later than the 60–day period beginning on the date the fiscal intermediary or the carrier, as the case may be, receives a request for a redetermination. Notice of such determination shall be mailed to the individual filing the claim before the conclusion of such 60–day period.

(D) Construction.—For purposes of the succeeding provisions of this section a redetermination under this paragraph shall be considered to be part of the initial determination.

(4) Requirements of notice of determinations.—With respect to an initial determination insofar as it results in a denial of a claim for benefits—

(A) the written notice on the determination shall include—

(i) the reasons for the determination, including whether a local medical review policy or a local coverage determination was used;

(ii) the procedures for obtaining additional information concerning the determination, including the information described in subparagraph (B); and

(iii) notification of the right to seek a redetermination or otherwise appeal the determination and instructions on how to initiate such a redetermination under this section;

(B) such written notice shall be provided in printed form and written in a manner calculated to be understood by the individual entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both; and

(C) the individual provided such written notice may obtain, upon request, information on the specific provision of the policy, manual, or regulation used in making the redetermination.

(5) Requirements of notice of redeterminations.—With respect to a redetermination insofar as it results in a denial of a claim for benefits—

(A) the written notice on the redetermination shall include—

(i) the specific reasons for the redetermination;

(ii) as appropriate, a summary of the clinical or scientific evidence used in making the redetermination;

(iii) a description of the procedures for obtaining additional information concerning the redetermination; and

(iv) notification of the right to appeal the redetermination and instructions on how to initiate such an appeal under this section;

(B) such written notice shall be provided in printed form and written in a manner calculated to be understood by the individual entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both; and

(C) the individual provided such written notice may obtain, upon request, information on the specific provision of the policy, manual, or regulation used in making the redetermination.

(b) Appeal Rights.—

(1) In general.—

(A) Reconsideration of initial determination.— Subject to subparagraph (D), any individual dissatisfied with any initial determination under subsection (a)(1) shall be entitled to reconsideration of the determination, and, subject to subparagraphs (D) and (E), a hearing thereon by the Secretary to the same extent as is provided in section 205(b) and, subject to paragraph (2), to judicial review of the Secretary’s final decision after such hearing as is provided in section 205(g). For purposes of the preceding sentence, any reference to the “Commissioner of Social Security” or the “Social Security Administration” in subsection (g) or (l) of section 205 shall be considered a reference to the “Secretary” or the “Department of Health and Human Services”, respectively.

(B) Representation by provider or supplier.—

(i) In general.—Sections 206(a), 1102, and 1871 shall not be construed as authorizing the Secretary to prohibit an individual from being represented under this section by a person that furnishes or supplies the individual, directly or indirectly, with services or items, solely on the basis that the person furnishes or supplies the individual with such a service or item.

(ii) Mandatory waiver of right to payment from beneficiary.—Any person that furnishes services or items to an individual may not represent an individual under this section with respect to the issue described in section 1879(a)(2) unless the person has waived any rights for payment from the beneficiary with respect to the services or items involved in the appeal.

(iii) Prohibition on payment for representation.—If a person furnishes services or items to an individual and represents the individual under this section, the person may not impose any financial liability on such individual in connection with such representation.

(iv) Requirements for representatives of a beneficiary.—The provisions of section 205(j) and of section 206 (other than subsection (a)(4) of such section) regarding representation of claimants shall apply to representation of an individual with respect to appeals under this section in the same manner as they apply to representation of an individual under those sections.

(C) Succession of rights in cases of assignment.—The right of an individual to an appeal under this section with respect to an item or service may be assigned to the provider of services or supplier of the item or service upon the written consent of such individual using a standard form established by the Secretary for such an assignment.

(D) Time limits for filing appeals.—

(i) Reconsiderations.—Reconsideration under subparagraph (A) shall be available only if the individual described in subparagraph (A) files notice with the Secretary to request reconsideration by not later than the end of the 180–day period beginning on the date the individual receives notice of the redetermination under subsection (a)(3), or within such additional time as the Secretary may allow.

(ii) Hearings conducted by the secretary.—The Secretary shall establish in regulations time limits for the filing of a request for a hearing by the Secretary in accordance with provisions in sections 205 and 206.

(E) Amounts in controversy.—

(i) In general.—A hearing (by the Secretary) shall not be available to an individual under this section if the amount in controversy is less than $100, and judicial review shall not be available to the individual if the amount in controversy is less than $1,000.

(ii) Aggregation of claims.—In determining the amount in controversy, the Secretary, under regulations, shall allow two or more appeals to be aggregated if the appeals involve—

(I) the delivery of similar or related services to the same individual by one or more providers of services or suppliers, or

(II) common issues of law and fact arising from services furnished to two or more individuals by one or more providers of services or suppliers.

(iii) Adjustment of dollar amounts.—For requests for hearings or judicial review made in a year after 2004, the dollar amounts specified in clause (i) shall be equal to such dollar amounts increased by the percentage increase in the medical care component of the consumer price index for all urban consumers (U.S. city average) for July 2003 to the July preceding the year involved. Any amount determined under the previous sentence that is not a multiple of $10 shall be rounded to the nearest multiple of $10.

(F) Expedited proceedings.—

(i) Expedited determination.—In the case of an individual who has received notice from a provider of services that such provider plans—

(I) to terminate services provided to an individual and a physician certifies that failure to continue the provision of such services is likely to place the individual’s health at significant risk, or

(II) to discharge the individual from the provider of services, the individual may request, in writing or orally, an expedited determination or an expedited reconsideration of an initial determination made under subsection (a)(1), as the case may be, and the Secretary shall provide such expedited determination or expedited reconsideration.

(ii) Expedited hearing.—In a hearing by the Secretary under this section, in which the moving party alleges that no material issues of fact are in dispute, the Secretary shall make an expedited determination as to whether any such facts are in dispute and, if not, shall render a decision expeditiously.

(G) Reopening and revision of determinations.—The Secretary may reopen or revise any initial determination or reconsidered determination described in this subsection under guidelines established by the Secretary in regulations.

(2) Expedited access to judicial review.—

(A) In general.—The Secretary shall establish a process under which a provider of services or supplier that furnishes an item or service or an individual entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both, who has filed an appeal under paragraph (1) (other than an appeal filed under paragraph (1)(F)(i)) may obtain access to judicial review when a review entity (described in subparagraph (D)), on its own motion or at the request of the appellant, determines that the Departmental Appeals Board does not have the authority to decide the question of law or regulation relevant to the matters in controversy and that there is no material issue of fact in dispute. The appellant may make such request only once with respect to a question of law or regulation for a specific matter in dispute in a case of an appeal.

(B) Prompt determinations.—If, after or coincident with appropriately filing a request for an administrative hearing, the appellant requests a determination by the appropriate review entity that the Departmental Appeals Board does not have the authority to decide the question of law or regulations relevant to the matters in controversy and that there is no material issue of fact in dispute, and if such request is accompanied by the documents and materials as the appropriate review entity shall require for purposes of making such determination, such review entity shall make a determination on the request in writing within 60 days after the date such review entity receives the request and such accompanying documents and materials. Such a determination by such review entity shall be considered a final decision and not subject to review by the Secretary.

(C) Access to judicial review.—

(i) In general.—If the appropriate review entity—

(I) determines that there are no material issues of fact in dispute and that the only issues to be adjudicated are ones of law or regulation that the Departmental Appeals Board does not have authority to decide; or

(II) fails to make such determination within the period provided under subparagraph (B), then the appellant may bring a civil action as described in this subparagraph.

(ii) Deadline for filing.—Such action shall be filed, in the case described in—

(I) clause (i)(I), within 60 days of the date of the determination described in such clause; or

(II) clause (i)(II), within 60 days of the end of the period provided under subparagraph (B) for the determination.

(iii) Venue.—Such action shall be brought in the district court of the United States for the judicial district in which the appellant is located (or, in the case of an action brought jointly by more than one applicant, the judicial district in which the greatest number of applicants are located) or in the District Court for the District of Columbia.

(iv) Interest on any amounts in controversy.—Where a provider of services or supplier is granted judicial review pursuant to this paragraph, the amount in controversy (if any) shall be subject to annual interest beginning on the first day of the first month beginning after the 60-day period as determined pursuant to clause (ii) and equal to the rate of interest on obligations issued for purchase by the Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund for the month in which the civil action authorized under this paragraph is commenced, to be awarded by the reviewing court in favor of the prevailing party. No interest awarded pursuant to the preceding sentence shall be deemed income or cost for the purposes of determining reimbursement due providers of services or suppliers under this title.

(D) Review entity defined.—For purposes of this subsection, the term “review entity” means an entity of up to three reviewers who are administrative law judges or members of the Departmental Appeals Board selected for purposes of making determinations under this paragraph.

(c) Conduct of Reconsiderations by Independent Contractors.—

(1) In general.—The Secretary shall enter into contracts with qualified independent contractors to conduct reconsiderations of initial determinations made under subparagraphs (B) and (C) of subsection (a)(1). Contracts shall be for an initial term of three years and shall be renewable on a triennial basis thereafter.

(2) Qualified independent contractor.—For purposes of this subsection, the term “qualified independent contractor” means an entity or organization that is independent of any organization under contract with the Secretary that makes initial determinations under subsection (a)(1), and that meets the requirements established by the Secretary consistent with paragraph (3).

(3) Requirements.—Any qualified independent contractor entering into a contract with the Secretary under this subsection shall meet all of the following requirements:

(A) In general.—The qualified independent contractor shall perform such duties and functions and assume such responsibilities as may be required by the Secretary to carry out the provisions of this subsection, and shall have sufficient medical, legal, and other expertise (including knowledge of the program under this title) and sufficient staffing to make reconsiderations under this subsection.

(B) Reconsiderations.—

(i) In general.—The qualified independent contractor shall review initial determinations. Where an initial determination is made with respect to whether an item or service is reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of illness or injury (under section 1862(a)(1)(A)), such review shall include consideration of the facts and circumstances of the initial determination by a panel of physicians or other appropriate health care professionals and any decisions with respect to the reconsideration shall be based on applicable information, including clinical experience (including the medical records of the individual involved) and medical, technical, and scientific evidence.

(ii) Effect of national and local coverage determinations.—

(I) National coverage determinations.—If the Secretary has made a national coverage determination pursuant to the requirements established under the third sentence of section 1862(a), such determination shall be binding on the qualified independent contractor in making a decision with respect to a reconsideration under this section.

(II) Local coverage determinations.—If the Secretary has made a local coverage determination, such determination shall not be binding on the qualified independent contractor in making a decision with respect to a reconsideration under this section. Notwithstanding the previous sentence, the qualified independent contractor shall consider the local coverage determination in making such decision.

(III) Absence of national or local coverage determination.—In the absence of such a national coverage determination or local coverage determination, the qualified independent contractor shall make a decision with respect to the reconsideration based on applicable information, including clinical experience and medical, technical, and scientific evidence.

(C) Deadlines for decisions.—

(i) Reconsiderations.—Except as provided in clauses (iii) and (iv), the qualified independent contractor shall conduct and conclude a reconsideration under subparagraph (B), and mail the notice of the decision with respect to the reconsideration by not later than the end of the 60–day period beginning on the date a request for reconsideration has been timely filed.

(ii) Consequences of failure to meet deadline.—In the case of a failure by the qualified independent contractor to mail the notice of the decision by the end of the period described in clause (i) or to provide notice by the end of the period described in clause (iii), as the case may be, the party requesting the reconsideration or appeal may request a hearing before the Secretary, notwithstanding any requirements for a reconsidered determination for purposes of the party’s right to such hearing.

(iii) Expedited reconsiderations.—The qualified independent contractor shall perform an expedited reconsideration under subsection (b)(1)(F) as follows:

(I) Deadline for decision.—Notwithstanding section 216(j) and subject to clause (iv), not later than the end of the 72–hour period beginning on the date the qualified independent contractor has received a request for such reconsideration and has received such medical or other records needed for such reconsideration, the qualified independent contractor shall provide notice (by telephone and in writing) to the individual and the provider of services and attending physician of the individual of the results of the reconsideration. Such reconsideration shall be conducted regardless of whether the provider of services or supplier will charge the individual for continued services or whether the individual will be liable for payment for such continued services.

(II) Consultation with beneficiary.—In such reconsideration, the qualified independent contractor shall solicit the views of the individual involved.

(III) Special rule for hospital discharges.—A reconsideration of a discharge from a hospital shall be conducted under this clause in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs (2), (3), and (4) of section 1154(e) as in effect on the date that precedes the date of the enactment of this subparagraph.

(iv) Extension.—An individual requesting a reconsideration under this subparagraph may be granted such additional time as the individual specifies (not to exceed 14 days) for the qualified independent contractor to conclude the reconsideration. The individual may request such additional time orally or in writing.

(D) Qualifications for reviewers.—The requirements of subsection (g) shall be met (relating to qualifications of reviewing professionals).

(E) Explanation of decision.—Any decision with respect to a reconsideration of a qualified independent contractor shall be in writing, be written in a manner calculated to be understood by the individual entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both, and shall include (to the extent appropriate) and shall include a detailed explanation of the decision as well as a discussion of the pertinent facts and applicable regulations applied in making such decision, and a notification of the right to appeal such determination and instructions on how to initiate such appeal under this section and in the case of a determination of whether an item or service is reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of illness or injury (under section 1862(a)(1)(A)) an explanation of the medical and scientific rationale for the decision.

(F) Notice requirements.—Whenever a qualified independent contractor makes a decision with respect to a reconsideration under this subsection, the qualified independent contractor shall promptly notify the entity responsible for the payment of claims under part A or part B of such decision.

(G) Dissemination of decisions on reconsiderations.—Each qualified independent contractor shall make available all decisions with respect to reconsiderations of such qualified independent contractors to fiscal intermediaries (under section 1816), carriers (under section 1842), quality improvement organizations[303] (under part B of title XI), Medicare+Choice organizations offering Medicare+Choice plans under part C, other entities under contract with the Secretary to make initial determinations under part A or part B or title XI, and to the public. The Secretary shall establish a methodology under which qualified independent contractors shall carry out this subparagraph.

(H) Ensuring consistency in decisions.—Each qualified independent contractor shall monitor its decisions with respect to reconsiderations to ensure the consistency of such decisions with respect to requests for reconsideration of similar or related matters.

(I) Data collection.—

(i) In general.—Consistent with the requirements of clause (ii), a qualified independent contractor shall collect such information relevant to its functions, and keep and maintain such records in such form and manner as the Secretary may require to carry out the purposes of this section and shall permit access to and use of any such information and records as the Secretary may require for such purposes.

(ii) Type of data collected.—Each qualified independent contractor shall keep accurate records of each decision made, consistent with standards established by the Secretary for such purpose. Such records shall be maintained in an electronic database in a manner that provides for identification of the following:

(I) Specific claims that give rise to appeals.

(II) Situations suggesting the need for increased education for providers of services, physicians, or suppliers.

(III) Situations suggesting the need for changes in national or local coverage determination.

(IV) Situations suggesting the need for changes in local coverage determinations.

(iii) Annual reporting.—Each qualified independent contractor shall submit annually to the Secretary (or otherwise as the Secretary may request) records maintained under this paragraph for the previous year.

(J) Hearings by the secretary.—The qualified independent contractor shall (i) submit such information as is required for an appeal of a decision of the contractor, and (ii) participate in such hearings as required by the Secretary.

(K) Independence requirements.—

(i) In general.—Subject to clause (ii), a qualified independent contractor shall not conduct any activities in a case unless the entity—

(I) is not a related party (as defined in subsection (g)(5));

(II) does not have a material familial, financial, or professional relationship with such a party in relation to such case; and

(III) does not otherwise have a conflict of interest with such a party.

(ii) Exception for reasonable compensation.— Nothing in clause (i) shall be construed to prohibit receipt by a qualified independent contractor of compensation from the Secretary for the conduct of activities under this section if the compensation is provided consistent with clause (iii).

(iii) Limitations on entity compensation.— Compensation provided by the Secretary to a qualified independent contractor in connection with reviews under this section shall not be contingent on any decision rendered by the contractor or by any reviewing professional.

(4) Number of qualified independent contractors.—The Secretary shall enter into contracts with a sufficient number of qualified independent contractors (but not fewer than 4 such contractors) to conduct reconsiderations consistent with the timeframes applicable under this subsection.

(5) Limitation on qualified independent contractor liability.—No qualified independent contractor having a contract with the Secretary under this subsection and no person who is employed by, or who has a fiduciary relationship with, any such qualified independent contractor or who furnishes professional services to such qualified independent contractor, shall be held by reason of the performance of any duty, function, or activity required or authorized pursuant to this subsection or to a valid contract entered into under this subsection, to have violated any criminal law, or to be civilly liable under any law of the United States or of any State (or political subdivision thereof) provided due care was exercised in the performance of such duty, function, or activity.

(d) Deadlines for Hearings by the Secretary; Notice.—

(1) Hearing by administrative law judge.—

(A) In general.—Except as provided in subparagraph (B), an administrative law judge shall conduct and conclude a hearing on a decision of a qualified independent contractor under subsection (c) and render a decision on such hearing by not later than the end of the 90–day period beginning on the date a request for hearing has been timely filed.

(B) Waiver of deadline by party seeking hearing.—The 90–day period under subparagraph (A) shall not apply in the case of a motion or stipulation by the party requesting the hearing to waive such period.

(2) Departmental appeals board review.—

(A) In general.—The Departmental Appeals Board of the Department of Health and Human Services shall conduct and conclude a review of the decision on a hearing described in paragraph (1) and make a decision or remand the case to the administrative law judge for reconsideration by not later than the end of the 90–day period beginning on the date a request for review has been timely filed.

(B) DAB hearing procedure.—In reviewing a decision on a hearing under this paragraph, the Departmental Appeals Board shall review the case de novo.

(3) Consequences of failure to meet deadlines.—

(A) Hearing by administrative law judge.—In the case of a failure by an administrative law judge to render a decision by the end of the period described in paragraph (1), the party requesting the hearing may request a review by the Departmental Appeals Board of the Department of Health and Human Services, notwithstanding any requirements for a hearing for purposes of the party’s right to such a review.

(B) Departmental appeals board review.—In the case of a failure by the Departmental Appeals Board to render a decision by the end of the period described in paragraph (2), the party requesting the hearing may seek judicial review, notwithstanding any requirements for a hearing for purposes of the party’s right to such judicial review.

(4) Notice.—Notice of the decision of an administrative law judge shall be in writing in a manner calculated to be understood by the individual entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both, and shall include—

(A) the specific reasons for the determination (including, to the extent appropriate, a summary of the clinical or scientific evidence used in making the determination);

(B) the procedures for obtaining additional information concerning the decision; and

(C) notification of the right to appeal the decision and instructions on how to initiate such an appeal under this section.

(e) Administrative Provisions.—

(1) Limitation on review of certain regulations.—A regulation or instruction that relates to a method for determining the amount of payment under part B and that was initially issued before January 1, 1981, shall not be subject to judicial review.

(2) Outreach.—The Secretary shall perform such outreach activities as are necessary to inform individuals entitled to benefits under this title and providers of services and suppliers with respect to their rights of, and the process for, appeals made under this section. The Secretary shall use the toll–free telephone number maintained by the Secretary under section 1804(b) to provide information regarding appeal rights and respond to inquiries regarding the status of appeals.

(3) Continuing education requirement for qualified independent contractors and administrative law judges.—The Secretary shall provide to each qualified independent contractor, and, in consultation with the Commissioner of Social Security, to administrative law judges that decide appeals of reconsiderations of initial determinations or other decisions or determinations under this section, such continuing education with respect to coverage of items and services under this title or policies of the Secretary with respect to part B of title XI as is necessary for such qualified independent contractors and administrative law judges to make informed decisions with respect to appeals.

(4) Reports.—

(A) Annual report to congress.—The Secretary shall submit to Congress an annual report describing the number of appeals for the previous year, identifying issues that require administrative or legislative actions, and including any recommendations of the Secretary with respect to such actions. The Secretary shall include in such report an analysis of determinations by qualified independent contractors with respect to inconsistent decisions and an analysis of the causes of any such inconsistencies.

(B) Survey.—Not less frequently than every 5 years, the Secretary shall conduct a survey of a valid sample of individuals entitled to benefits under this title who have filed appeals of determinations under this section, providers of services, and suppliers to determine the satisfaction of such individuals or entities with the process for appeals of determinations provided for under this section and education and training provided by the Secretary with respect to that process. The Secretary shall submit to Congress a report describing the results of the survey, and shall include any recommendations for administrative or legislative actions that the Secretary determines appropriate.

(f) Review of Coverage Determinations.—

(1) National Coverage Determinations.—

(A) In general.—Review of any national coverage determination shall be subject to the following limitations:

(i) Such a determination shall not be reviewed by any administrative law judge.

(ii) Such a determination shall not be held unlawful or set aside on the ground that a requirement of section 553 of title 5, United States Code[304], or section 1871(b) of this title, relating to publication in the Federal Register or opportunity for public comment, was not satisfied.

(iii) Upon the filing of a complaint by an aggrieved party, such a determination shall be reviewed by the Departmental Appeals Board of the Department of Health and Human Services. In conducting such a review, the Departmental Appeals Board—

(I) shall review the record and shall permit discovery and the taking of evidence to evaluate the reasonableness of the determination, if the Board determines that the record is incomplete or lacks adequate information to support the validity of the determination;

(II) may, as appropriate, consult with appropriate scientific and clinical experts; and

(III) shall defer only to the reasonable findings of fact, reasonable interpretations of law, and reasonable applications of fact to law by the Secretary.

(iv) The Secretary shall implement a decision of the Departmental Appeals Board within 30 days of receipt of such decision.

(v) A decision of the Departmental Appeals Board constitutes a final agency action and is subject to judicial review.

(B) Definition of national coverage determination.—For purposes of this section, the term “national coverage determination” means a determination by the Secretary with respect to whether or not a particular item or service is covered nationally under this title, but does not include a determination of what code, if any, is assigned to a particular item or service covered under this title or a determination with respect to the amount of payment made for a particular item or service so covered.

(2) Local coverage determination.—

(A) In General.—Review of any local coverage determination shall be subject to the following limitations:

(i) Upon the filing of a complaint by an aggrieved party, such a determination shall be reviewed by an administrative law judge . The administrative law judge.—

(I) shall review the record and shall permit discovery and the taking of evidence to evaluate the reasonableness of the determination, if the administrative law judge determines that the record is incomplete or lacks adequate information to support the validity of the determination;

(II) may, as appropriate, consult with appropriate scientific and clinical experts; and

(III) shall defer only to the reasonable findings of fact, reasonable interpretations of law, and reasonable applications of fact to law by the Secretary.

(ii) Upon the filing of a complaint by an aggrieved party, a decision of an administrative law judge under clause (i) shall be reviewed by the Departmental Appeals Board of the Department of Health and Human Services.

(iii) The Secretary shall implement a decision of the administrative law judge or the Departmental Appeals Board within 30 days of receipt of such decision.

(iv) A decision of the Departmental Appeals Board constitutes a final agency action and is subject to judicial review.

(B) Definition of local coverage determination.—For purposes of this section, the term “local coverage determination” means a determination by a fiscal intermediary or a carrier under part A or part B, as applicable, respecting whether or not a particular item or service is covered on an intermediary–or carrier–wide basis under such parts, in accordance with section 1862(a)(1)(A).

(3) No material issues of fact in dispute.—In the case of a determination that may otherwise be subject to review under paragraph (1)(A)(iii) or paragraph (2)(A)(i), where the moving party alleges that—

(A) there are no material issues of fact in dispute, and

(B) the only issue of law is the constitutionality of a provision of this title, or that a regulation, determination, or ruling by the Secretary is invalid, the moving party may seek review by a court of competent jurisdiction without filing a complaint under such paragraph and without otherwise exhausting other administrative remedies.

(4) Pending national coverage determinations.—

(A) In general.—In the event the Secretary has not issued a national coverage or noncoverage determination with respect to a particular type or class of items or services, an aggrieved person (as described in paragraph (5)) may submit to the Secretary a request to make such a determination with respect to such items or services. By not later than the end of the 90–day period beginning on the date the Secretary receives such a request (notwithstanding the receipt by the Secretary of new evidence (if any) during such 90–day period), the Secretary shall take one of the following actions:

(i) Issue a national coverage determination, with or without limitations.

(ii) Issue a national noncoverage determination.

(iii) Issue a determination that no national coverage or noncoverage determination is appropriate as of the end of such 90–day period with respect to national coverage of such items or services.

(iv) Issue a notice that states that the Secretary has not completed a review of the request for a national coverage determination and that includes an identification of the remaining steps in the Secretary’s review process and a deadline by which the Secretary will complete the review and take an action described in clause (i), (ii), or (iii).

(B) Deemed action by the secretary.—In the case of an action described in subparagraph (A)(iv), if the Secretary fails to take an action referred to in such clause by the deadline specified by the Secretary under such clause, then the Secretary is deemed to have taken an action described in subparagraph (A)(iii) as of the deadline.

(C) Explanation of determination.—When issuing a determination under subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall include an explanation of the basis for the determination. An action taken under subparagraph (A) (other than clause (iv)) is deemed to be a national coverage determination for purposes of review under paragraph (1)(A).

(5) Standing.—An action under this subsection seeking review of a national coverage determination or local coverage determination may be initiated only by individuals entitled to benefits under part A, or enrolled under part B, or both, who are in need of the items or services that are the subject of the coverage determination.

(6) Publication on the internet of decisions of hearings of the secretary.—Each decision of a hearing by the Secretary with respect to a national coverage determination shall be made public, and the Secretary shall publish each decision on the Medicare Internet site of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Secretary shall remove from such decision any information that would identify any individual, provider of services, or supplier.

(7) Annual report on national coverage determinations.—

(A) In general.—Not later than December 1 of each year, beginning in 2001, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report that sets forth a detailed compilation of the actual time periods that were necessary to complete and fully implement national coverage determinations that were made in the previous fiscal year for items, services, or medical devices not previously covered as a benefit under this title, including, with respect to each new item, service, or medical device, a statement of the time taken by the Secretary to make and implement the necessary coverage, coding, and payment determinations, including the time taken to complete each significant step in the process of making and implementing such determinations.

(B) Publication of reports on the internet.—The Secretary shall publish each report submitted under clause (i) on the medicare Internet site of the Department of Health and Human Services.

(8) Construction.—Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as permitting administrative or judicial review pursuant to this section insofar as such review is explicitly prohibited or restricted under another provision of law.

(g) Qualifications of Reviewers.—

(1) In general.—In reviewing determinations under this section, a qualified independent contractor shall assure that—

(A) each individual conducting a review shall meet the qualifications of paragraph (2);

(B) compensation provided by the contractor to each such reviewer is consistent with paragraph (3); and

(C) in the case of a review by a panel described in subsection (c)(3)(B) composed of physicians or other health care professionals (each in this subsection referred to as a “reviewing professional”), a reviewing professional meets the qualifications described in paragraph (4) and, where a claim is regarding the furnishing of treatment by a physician (allopathic or osteopathic) or the provision of items or services by a physician (allopathic or osteopathic), a reviewing professional shall be a physician (allopathic or osteopathic).

(2) Independence.—

(A) In general.—Subject to subparagraph (B), each individual conducting a review in a case shall—

(i) not be a related party (as defined in paragraph (5));

(ii) not have a material familial, financial, or professional relationship with such a party in the case under review; and

(iii) not otherwise have a conflict of interest with such a party.

(B) Exception.—Nothing in subparagraph (A) shall be construed to—

(i) prohibit an individual, solely on the basis of a participation agreement with a fiscal intermediary, carrier, or other contractor, from serving as a reviewing professional if—

(I) the individual is not involved in the provision of items or services in the case under review;

(II) the fact of such an agreement is disclosed to the Secretary and the individual entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both, or such individual’s authorized representative, and neither party objects; and

(III) the individual is not an employee of the intermediary, carrier, or contractor and does not provide services exclusively or primarily to or on behalf of such intermediary, carrier, or contractor;

(ii) prohibit an individual who has staff privileges at the institution where the treatment involved takes place from serving as a reviewer merely on the basis of having such staff privileges if the existence of such privileges is disclosed to the Secretary and such individual (or authorized representative), and neither party objects; or

(iii) prohibit receipt of compensation by a reviewing professional from a contractor if the compensation is provided consistent with paragraph (3).

For purposes of this paragraph, the term “participation agreement” means an agreement relating to the provision of health care services by the individual and does not include the provision of services as a reviewer under this subsection.

(3) Limitations on reviewer compensation.—Compensation provided by a qualified independent contractor to a reviewer in connection with a review under this section shall not be contingent on the decision rendered by the reviewer.

(4) Licensure and expertise.—Each reviewing professional shall be—

(A) a physician (allopathic or osteopathic) who is appropriately credentialed or licensed in one or more States to deliver health care services and has medical expertise in the field of practice that is appropriate for the items or services at issue; or

(B) a health care professional who is legally authorized in one or more States (in accordance with State law or the State regulatory mechanism provided by State law) to furnish the health care items or services at issue and has medical expertise in the field of practice that is appropriate for such items or services.

(5) Related party defined.—For purposes of this section, the term “related party” means, with respect to a case under this title involving a specific individual entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both, any of the following:

(A) The Secretary, the medicare administrative contractor involved, or any fiduciary, officer, director, or employee of the Department of Health and Human Services, or of such contractor.

(B) The individual (or authorized representative).

(C) The health care professional that provides the items or services involved in the case.

(D) The institution at which the items or services (or treatment) involved in the case are provided.

(E) The manufacturer of any drug or other item that is included in the items or services involved in the case.

(F) Any other party determined under any regulations to have a substantial interest in the case involved.

(h) Prior Determination Process for Certain Items and Services.—

(1) Establishment of process.—

(A) In general.—With respect to a medicare administrative contractor that has a contract under section 1874A that provides for making payments under this title with respect to physicians’ services (as defined in section 1848(j)(3)), the Secretary shall establish a prior determination process that meets the requirements of this subsection and that shall be applied by such contractor in the case of eligible requesters.

(B) Eligible requester.—For purposes of this subsection, each of the following shall be an eligible requester:

(i) A participating physician, but only with respect to physicians’ services to be furnished to an individual who is entitled to benefits under this title and who has consented to the physician making the request under this subsection for those physicians’ services.

(ii) An individual entitled to benefits under this title, but only with respect to a physicians’ service for which the individual receives, from a physician, an advance beneficiary notice under section 1879(a).

(2) Secretarial flexibility.—The Secretary shall establish by regulation reasonable limits on the physicians’ services for which a prior determination of coverage may be requested under this subsection. In establishing such limits, the Secretary may consider the dollar amount involved with respect to the physicians’ service, administrative costs and burdens, and other relevant factors.

(3) Request for prior determination.—

(A) In general.—Subject to paragraph (2), under the process established under this subsection an eligible requester may submit to the contractor a request for a determination, before the furnishing of a physicians’ service, as to whether the physicians’ service is covered under this title consistent with the applicable requirements of section 1862(a)(1)(A) (relating to medical necessity).

(B) Accompanying documentation.—The Secretary may require that the request be accompanied by a description of the physicians’ service, supporting documentation relating to the medical necessity for the physicians’ service, and any other appropriate documentation. In the case of a request submitted by an eligible requester who is described in paragraph (1)(B)(ii), the Secretary may require that the request also be accompanied by a copy of the advance beneficiary notice involved.

(4) Response to request.—

(A) In general.—Under such process, the contractor shall provide the eligible requester with written notice of a determination as to whether—

(i) the physicians’ service is so covered;

(ii) the physicians’ service is not so covered; or

(iii) the contractor lacks sufficient information to make a coverage determination with respect to the physicians’ service.

(B) Contents of notice for certain determinations.—

(i) Noncoverage.—If the contractor makes the determination described in subparagraph (A)(ii), the contractor shall include in the notice a brief explanation of the basis for the determination, including on what national or local coverage or noncoverage determination (if any) the determination is based, and a description of any applicable rights under subsection (a).

(ii) Insufficient information.—If the contractor makes the determination described in subparagraph (A)(iii), the contractor shall include in the notice a description of the additional information required to make the coverage determination.

(C) Deadline to respond.—Such notice shall be provided within the same time period as the time period applicable to the contractor providing notice of initial determinations on a claim for benefits under subsection (a)(2)(A).

(D) Informing beneficiary in case of physician request.—In the case of a request by a participating physician under paragraph (1)(B)(i), the process shall provide that the individual to whom the physicians’ service is proposed to be furnished shall be informed of any determination described in subparagraph (A)(ii) (relating to a determination of non-coverage) and the right (referred to in paragraph (6)(B)) to obtain the physicians’ service and have a claim submitted for the physicians’ service.

(5) Binding nature of positive determination.—If the contractor makes the determination described in paragraph (4)(A)(i), such determination shall be binding on the contractor in the absence of fraud or evidence of misrepresentation of facts presented to the contractor.

(6) Limitation on further review.—

(A) In general.—Contractor determinations described in paragraph (4)(A)(ii) or (4)(A)(iii) (relating to pre-service claims) are not subject to further administrative appeal or judicial review under this section or otherwise.

(B) Decision not to seek prior determination or negative determination does not impact right to obtain services, seek reimbursement, or appeal rights.—Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as affecting the right of an individual who—

(i) decides not to seek a prior determination under this subsection with respect to physicians’ services; or

(ii) seeks such a determination and has received a determination described in paragraph (4)(A)(ii), from receiving (and submitting a claim for) such physicians’ services and from obtaining administrative or judicial review respecting such claim under the other applicable provisions of this section. Failure to seek a prior determination under this subsection with respect to physicians’ service shall not be taken into account in such administrative or judicial review.

(C) No prior determination after receipt of services.—Once an individual is provided physicians’ services, there shall be no prior determination under this subsection with respect to such physicians’ services.

(i) Mediation Process for Local Coverage Determinations.—

(1) Establishment of process.—The Secretary shall establish a mediation process under this subsection through the use of a physician trained in mediation and employed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

(2) Responsibility of mediator.—Under the process established in paragraph (1), such a mediator shall mediate in disputes between groups representing providers of services, suppliers (as defined in section 1861(d)), and the medical director for a medicare administrative contractor whenever the regional administrator (as defined by the Secretary) involved determines that there was a systematic pattern and a large volume of complaints from such groups regarding decisions of such director or there is a complaint from the co-chair of the advisory committee for that contractor to such regional administrator regarding such dispute.


[302]  P.L. 112-40, §261(a)(3)(A), struck out “utilization and quality control peer review” and inserted “quality improvement”, applicable to contracts entered into or renewed on or after January 1, 2012.

[303]  P.L. 112-40, §261(a)(3)(F), struck out “peer review organizations’” and inserted “quality improvement organizations”, applicable to contracts entered into or renewed on or after January 1, 2012.

[304]  See Vol. II, 5 U.S.C. 553.