(a) A health care service plan that covers hospital, medical, or surgical expenses, or its contracting medical providers, shall provide 24-hour access for enrollees and providers, including, but not limited to, noncontracting hospitals, to obtain timely authorization for medically necessary care, for circumstances where the enrollee has received emergency services and care is stabilized, but the treating provider believes that the enrollee may not be discharged safely. A physician and surgeon shall be available for consultation and for resolving disputed requests for authorizations. A health care service plan that does not require prior authorization as a prerequisite for payment for necessary medical care following stabilization of an emergency medical condition or active labor need not satisfy the requirements of this subdivision.
(b) A health care service plan, or its contracting medical providers, shall reimburse providers for emergency services and care provided to its enrollees, until the care results in stabilization of the enrollee, except as provided in subdivision (c). As long as federal or state law requires that emergency services and care be provided without first questioning the patient's ability to pay, a health care service plan shall not require a provider to obtain authorization prior to the provision of emergency services and care necessary to stabilize the enrollee's emergency medical condition.
(c) Payment for emergency services and care may be denied only if the health care service plan, or its contracting medical providers, reasonably determines that the emergency services and care were never performed; provided that a health care service plan, or its contracting medical providers, may deny reimbursement to a provider for a medical screening examination in cases when the plan enrollee did not require emergency services and care and the enrollee reasonably should have known that an emergency did not exist. A health care service plan may require prior authorization as a prerequisite for payment for necessary medical care following stabilization of an emergency medical condition.
(d) If there is a disagreement between the health care service plan and the provider regarding the need for necessary medical care, following stabilization of the enrollee, the plan shall assume responsibility for the care of the patient either by having medical personnel contracting with the plan personally take over the care of the patient within a reasonable amount of time after the disagreement, or by having another general acute care hospital under contract with the plan agree to accept the transfer of the patient as provided in Section 1317.2 , Section 1317.2a , or other pertinent statute. However, this requirement shall not apply to necessary medical care provided in hospitals outside the service area of the health care service plan. If the health care service plan fails to satisfy the requirements of this subdivision, further necessary care shall be deemed to have been authorized by the plan. Payment for this care may not be denied.
(e) A health care service plan may delegate the responsibilities enumerated in this section to the plan's contracting medical providers.
(f) Subdivisions (b), (c), (d), (g), and (h) shall not apply with respect to a nonprofit health care service plan that has 3,500,000 enrollees and maintains a prior authorization system that includes the availability by telephone within 30 minutes of a practicing emergency department physician.
(g) The Department of Managed Health Care shall adopt by July 1, 1995, on an emergency basis, regulations governing instances when an enrollee requires medical care following stabilization of an emergency medical condition, including appropriate timeframes for a health care service plan to respond to requests for treatment authorization.
(h) The Department of Managed Health Care shall adopt, by July 1, 1999, on an emergency basis, regulations governing instances when an enrollee in the opinion of the treating provider requires necessary medical care following stabilization of an emergency medical condition, including appropriate timeframes for a health care service plan to respond to a request for treatment authorization from a treating provider who has a contract with a plan.
(i) The definitions set forth in Section 1317.1 shall control the construction of this section.
(j)(1) A health care service plan that is contacted by a hospital pursuant to Section 1262.8 shall, within 30 minutes of the time the hospital makes the initial telephone call requesting information, either authorize poststabilization care or inform the hospital that it will arrange for the prompt transfer of the enrollee to another hospital.
(2) A health care service plan that is contacted by a hospital pursuant to Section 1262.8 shall reimburse the hospital for poststabilization care rendered to the enrollee if any of the following occur:
(A) The health care service plan authorizes the hospital to provide poststabilization care.
(B) The health care service plan does not respond to the hospital's initial contact or does not make a decision regarding whether to authorize poststabilization care or to promptly transfer the enrollee within the timeframe set forth in paragraph (1).
(C) There is an unreasonable delay in the transfer of the enrollee, and the noncontracting physician and surgeon determines that the enrollee requires poststabilization care.
(3) A health care service plan shall not require a hospital representative or a noncontracting physician and surgeon to make more than one telephone call pursuant to Section 1262.8 to the number provided in advance by the health care service plan. The representative of the hospital that makes the telephone call may be, but is not required to be, a physician and surgeon.
(4) An enrollee who is billed by a hospital in violation of Section 1262.8 may report receipt of the bill to the health care service plan and the department. The department shall forward that report to the State Department of Public Health.
(5) For purposes of this section, “poststabilization care” means medically necessary care provided after an emergency medical condition has been stabilized.
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