§ 8.1a. Preferred provider programs. Starting on the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly, to satisfy its liabilities under this Act for the provision of medical treatment to injured employees, an employer may utilize a preferred provider program approved by the Illinois Department of Insurance as in compliance with Sections 370k, 370l, 370m, and 370p of Article XX- 1/2 of the Illinois Insurance Code. For the purposes of compliance with these Sections, the employee shall be considered the “beneficiary” and the employer shall be considered the “insured”. Employers and insurers contracting directly with providers or utilizing multiple preferred provider programs to implement a preferred provider program providing workers' compensation benefits shall be subject to the above requirements of Article XX- 1/2 applicable to administrators with regard to such program, with the exception of Section 370l of the Illinois Insurance Code.
(a) In addition to the above requirements of Article XX- 1/2 of the Illinois Insurance Code, all preferred provider programs under this Section shall meet the following requirements:
(1) The provider network shall include an adequate number of occupational and non-occupational providers.
(2) The provider network shall include an adequate number and type of physicians or other providers to treat common injuries experienced by injured workers in the geographic area where the employees reside.
(3) Medical treatment for injuries shall be readily available at reasonable times to all employees. To the extent feasible, all medical treatment for injuries shall be readily accessible to all employees.
(4) Physician compensation shall not be structured in order to achieve the goal of inappropriately reducing, delaying, or denying medical treatment or restricting access to medical treatment.
(5) Before entering into any agreement under this Section, a program shall establish terms and conditions that must be met by noninstitutional providers wishing to enter into an agreement with the program. These terms and conditions may not discriminate unreasonably against or among noninstitutional providers. Neither difference in prices among noninstitutional providers produced by a process of individual negotiation nor price differences among other noninstitutional providers in different geographical areas or different specialties constitutes unreasonable discrimination.
(b) The administrator of any preferred provider program under this Act that uses economic evaluation shall file with the Director of Insurance a description of any policies and procedures related to economic evaluation utilized by the program. The filing shall describe how these policies and procedures are used in utilization review, peer review, incentive and penalty programs, and in provider retention and termination decisions. The Director of Insurance may deny approval of any preferred provider program that uses any policy or procedure of economic evaluation to inappropriately reduce, delay or deny medical treatment, or to restrict access to medical treatment. Evaluation of providers based upon objective medical quality and patient outcome measurements, appropriate use of best clinical practices and evidence based medicine, and use of health information technology shall be permitted. If approved, the employer shall provide a copy of the filing to all participating providers.
(1) The Director of the Department of Insurance shall make each administrator's filing available to the public upon request. The Director of the Department of Insurance may not publicly disclose any information submitted pursuant to this Section that is determined by the Director of the Department of Insurance to be confidential, proprietary, or trade secret information pursuant to State or federal law.
(2) For the purposes of this subsection (b), “economic evaluation” shall mean any evaluation of a particular physician, provider, medical group, or individual practice association based in whole or in part on the economic costs or utilization of services associated with medical care provided or authorized by the physician, provider, medical group, or individual practice association. Economic evaluation shall not include negotiated rates with a provider.
(c) Except for the provisions of subsection (a)(4) of Section 8 and for injuries occurring on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly, an employee of an employer utilizing a preferred provider program shall only be allowed to select a participating network provider from the network. An employer shall be responsible for: (i) all first aid and emergency treatment; (ii) all medical, surgical, and hospital services provided by the participating network provider initially selected by the employee or by any other participating network provider recommended by the initial participating network provider or any subsequent participating network provider in the chain of referrals from the initial participating network provider; and (iii) all medical, surgical, and hospital services provided by the participating network provider subsequently chosen by the employee or by any other participating network provider recommended by the subsequent participating network provider or any subsequent participating network provider in the chain of referrals from the second participating network provider. An employer shall not be liable for services determined by the Commission not to be compensable. An employer shall not be liable for medical services provided by a non-authorized provider when proper notice is provided to the injured worker.
(1) When the injured employee notifies the employer of the injury or files a claim for workers' compensation with the employer, the employer shall notify the employee of his or her right to be treated by a physician of his or her choice from the preferred provider network established pursuant to this Section, and the method by which the list of participating network providers may be accessed by the employee, except as provided in subsection (a)(4) of Section 8.
(2) Consistent with Article XX- 1/2 of the Illinois Insurance Code, treatment by a specialist who is not a member of the preferred provider network shall be permitted on a case-by-case basis if the medical provider network does not contain a physician who can provide the approved treatment, and if the employee has complied with any pre-authorization requirements of the preferred provider network. Consent for the employee to visit an out-of-network provider may not be unreasonably withheld. When a non-network provider is authorized pursuant to this subparagraph (2), the non-network provider shall not hold an employee liable for costs except as provided in subsection (e) of Section 8.2.
(3) The Director shall not approve, and may withdraw prior approval of, a preferred provider program that fails to provide an injured employee with sufficient access to necessary treating physicians, surgeons, and specialists.
(d) Except as provided in subsection (a)(4) of Section 8, upon a finding by the Commission that the care being rendered by the employee's second choice of provider within the employer's network is improper or inadequate, the employee may then choose a provider outside of the network at the employer's expense. The Commission shall issue a decision on any petition filed pursuant to this Section within 5 working days.
(e) The Director of the Department of Insurance may promulgate such rules as are necessary to carry out the provisions of this Section relating to approval and regulation of preferred provider programs.
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