FAQ Directory: Utilization Management, Credentialing and Provider Network

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2.15.2020 UM Timeliness Report Under 2020 HPA standards, UM 5, Element D requires organizations to monitor UM decision making and notification using UM 5 decision time frames, even though UM 5, Elements A, C and E were eliminated under the 2020 standards. Is this correct?

Yes, it is correct. The elimination of Elements A, C and E does not affect the review of Element D: UM Timeliness Report. The expectation is that the report includes timeliness for both decision making and notification of the decision given that the report includes denials and approvals. NCQA does not require written notification for approvals; therefore, timeliness for approvals is only reported under decisions.

UM_CR 2020

1.15.2020 “Training and Experience” for Same or Similar Specialists Please clarify what is meant by “training and experience” for same or similar specialist in UM 8 and UM 9.

The purpose of same-or-similar specialist review of appeals is to apply specific clinical knowledge and experience when determining if an appeal meets criteria for medical necessity and clinical appropriateness. “Training and experience” refers to the practitioner’s clinical training and experience.
The intent is that the specialist reviewing the appeal would have encountered a patient with this condition who is considering or has received the service or procedure in a clinical setting. NCQA assesses whether the specialist is appropriate for the condition, service or procedure in question, and does not consider the referring practitioner type.

Effective January 1, 2020, NCQA accepts board certification in the same specialty as a proxy for clinical training and experience.
NCQA does not require that the same-or similar specialist reviewer be actively practicing.

Experience with the condition, service or procedure that is limited to UM decision making in cases similar to the appeal in question is not considered sufficient experience, nor do UM decision-making criteria supersede the requirement for same-or-similar specialist review.

UM_CR 2020

1.15.2020 Denial Notifications to members via web portals If an organization uses a member web portal as a means of member written/electronic denial notification (which includes all requirements of UM 4 through UM 7), does this meet the UM denial notification requirements?

No, notification of denials to a member through a web portal does not meet the requirement for member notifications. However, emailing a denial notification directly to a member would be acceptable for electronic notification.

UM_CR 2020

10.15.2019 CR 7, Elements D and E: Assessing Medical and Behavioral Healthcare Providers Does NCQA require a separate tracking mechanism or report for each provider?

No. The organization must provide documentation of a tracking mechanism—or mechanisms (e.g., checklist or spreadsheet)—that encompass the required provider types

UM_CR 2019

10.15.2019 CR 2, Element A, Factor 1 What is the required composition of the Credentialing Committee?

NCQA does not require a Credentialing Committee size, composition or quorum beyond that the committee must include practitioners who participate in the network.
Participating practitioners on the credentialing committee must be from a range of specialties or departments that represent the types of practitioners reviewed by the committee. For example, it would not be sufficient for only primary care practitioners to participate on the committee unless the network has only primary care practitioners.

UM_CR 2020

8.15.2019 UM 5 Timeliness Requirements The UM 5, Elements A, C, E timeliness requirements were retired in 2020 Health Plan Accreditation. These requirements will be scored NA in HPA 2019. How will this affect timeliness reporting in UM 5, Element G?

An “NA” score for UM 5, Elements, A, C and E will not affect the review of UM 5, Element G: UM Timeliness Report. However, NCQA still requires organizations to monitor and submit a report of timeliness of decision making and notification of decisions for UM 5, Element G.

UM_CR 2019

8.15.2019 Scoring UM 5 Timeliness Requirements The UM 5, Elements A, C, E timeliness requirements were retired in 2020 Health Plan Accreditation. These requirements will be scored NA in HPA 2019. Does that mean that the “Explanation” and the “Related information” sections of these elements regarding notifications no longer apply to UM 5, Elements B, D and F?

No. The “Explanation” and the “Related information” sections of UM 5, Elements A, C and E still apply to UM 5, Elements B, D and F, respectively. All applicable information was moved to the relevant elements for HPA 2020.

UM_CR 2019

8.15.2019 Scoring UM File Review workbook for UM 5 timeliness Requirements Since UM 5, Elements A, C and E decision timeliness requirements were retired for 2020, how will the file review workbook be completed for those elements for 2019?

Because of the complexities of the workbook formulas, we are unable to change the workbook to accept “NA” in time for 2019 Standards Year surveys. To correctly calculate the notification date scoring, a date must be entered in this field.
NCQA will not require organizations to provide documentation of the decision date and will instruct surveyors to enter the earliest of

  1. The written notification date(s), or
  2. The verbal notification date(s) (if applicable).

Regardless of the score calculated for decision date,

  1. Surveyors will not score 30 files for this factor (although if it is necessary to review 30 files for the notification date, surveyors may need to complete this field, as described above for additional files).
  2. Surveyors will score the element NA in IRT.

UM_CR 2019

3.15.2019 Citing a benefit provision If a benefit provision is used as the basis for the denial, how must it be cited in the notification?

Referencing benefit documents such as the member handbook or Certificate of Coverage by title alone is not specific enough to meet the requirement. Because benefit documents are often large and complex, the organization must direct members to the specific location of the information, either by section title or page number.

The reference must still support the organization’s decision and relate to the reason for the request

UM_CR 2019

3.15.2019 UM 8, Element A MAXIMUS What factors are scored “Met” for UM 8, Element A if an upheld denial was sent to MAXIMUS?

Factors 7-13 should be scored as “Met” for upheld denials sent to MAXIMUS.

UM_CR 2018

2.15.2019 Language in denial letters May an organization send a single denial letter to a member and a practitioner that contains the reason for the denial in both layman terms (for the member) and clinical terms (for the practitioner)?

Yes. The organization may send a single letter to the member and practitioner that includes the specific reason for the denial, in language that would be easily understood by the member. The letter may also include, in a separate section, additional clinical or technical language directed toward a practitioner.

When NCQA reviews the letter to ascertain if the reason for the denial would be easy for the member to understand, it considers both the written reason and the context of the language and whether the information can be understood in context.

UM_CR 2019

12.15.2018 Mutually Agreed-Upon Dates in the Delegation Contract What date on the delegation agreement is considered the “mutually agreed-upon” date?

NCQA considers the implementation date as the date when the delegate can start performing delegated activities. But because the organization and delegate may have mutually agreed on and implemented delegated activities before signing the delegation agreement, NCQA is changing the policy for evidence of the implementation date.

When reviewing a delegation agreement, NCQA will consider the effective date or start date specified in the agreement as the mutually agreed-upon implementation date, for Element A (of the delegation standards), factor 1. This date may be before or after the signature date on the delegation agreement. If the agreement does not contain an effective date/start date, NCQA considers the date when the agreement was signed as the mutually agreed-upon implementation date.

NCQA may also accept other evidence of the implementation date: a letter, meeting minutes or other form of communication between the organization and the delegate that references their agreement on the delegated activity start date.

If an organization references the effective date/start date of the delegation agreement as the implementation date, NCQA will require submitted evidence for all other delegation factors to conform to that date as the implementation date.

The language in the explanation will be updated in a future Policy Update for applicable 2019 publications.

UM_CR 2019