42 U.S. Code § 300gg–111 - Preventing surprise medical bills

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(a) Coverage of emergency services
(1) In generalIf a group health plan, or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage, provides or covers any benefits with respect to services in an emergency department of a hospital or with respect to emergency services in an independent freestanding emergency department (as defined in paragraph (3)(D)), the plan or issuer shall cover emergency services (as defined in paragraph (3)(C))—
(A)
without the need for any prior authorization determination;
(B)
whether the health care provider furnishing such services is a participating provider or a participating emergency facility, as applicable, with respect to such services;
(C) in a manner so that, if such services are provided to a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee by a nonparticipating provider or a nonparticipating emergency facility
(i)
such services will be provided without imposing any requirement under the plan or coverage for prior authorization of services or any limitation on coverage that is more restrictive than the requirements or limitations that apply to emergency services received from participating providers and participating emergency facilities with respect to such plan or coverage, respectively;
(ii)
the cost-sharing requirement is not greater than the requirement that would apply if such services were provided by a participating provider or a participating emergency facility;
(iii)
such cost-sharing requirement is calculated as if the total amount that would have been charged for such services by such participating provider or participating emergency facility were equal to the recognized amount (as defined in paragraph (3)(H)) for such services, plan or coverage, and year;
(iv) the group health plan or health insurance issuer, respectively—
(I)
not later than 30 calendar days after the bill for such services is transmitted by such provider or facility, sends to the provider or facility, as applicable, an initial payment or notice of denial of payment; and
(II)
pays a total plan or coverage payment directly to such provider or facility, respectively (in accordance, if applicable, with the timing requirement described in subsection (c)(6)) that is, with application of any initial payment under subclause (I), equal to the amount by which the out-of-network rate (as defined in paragraph (3)(K)) for such services exceeds the cost-sharing amount for such services (as determined in accordance with clauses (ii) and (iii)) and year; and
(v)
any cost-sharing payments made by the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee with respect to such emergency services so furnished shall be counted toward any in-network deductible or out-of-pocket maximums applied under the plan or coverage, respectively (and such in-network deductible and out-of-pocket maximums shall be applied) in the same manner as if such cost-sharing payments were made with respect to emergency services furnished by a participating provider or a participating emergency facility; and
(D)
without regard to any other term or condition of such coverage (other than exclusion or coordination of benefits, or an affiliation or waiting period, permitted under section 300gg–3 of this title, including as incorporated pursuant to section 1185d of title 29 and section 9815 of title 26, and other than applicable cost-sharing).
(2) Audit process and regulations for qualifying payment amounts
(A) Audit process
(i) In generalNot later than October 1, 2021, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of the Treasury, shall establish through rulemaking a process, in accordance with clause (ii), under which group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage are audited by the Secretary or applicable State authority to ensure that—
(I)
such plans and coverage are in compliance with the requirement of applying a qualifying payment amount under this section; and
(II)
such qualifying payment amount so applied satisfies the definition under paragraph (3)(E) with respect to the year involved, including with respect to a group health plan or health insurance issuer described in clause (ii) of such paragraph (3)(E).
(ii) Audit samplesUnder the process established pursuant to clause (i), the Secretary
(I)
shall conduct audits described in such clause, with respect to a year (beginning with 2022), of a sample with respect to such year of claims data from not more than 25 group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage; and
(II)
may audit any group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage if the Secretary has received any complaint or other information about such plan or coverage, respectively, that involves the compliance of the plan or coverage, respectively, with either of the requirements described in subclauses (I) and (II) of such clause.
(iii) Reports

Beginning for 2022, the Secretary shall annually submit to Congress a report on the number of plans and issuers with respect to which audits were conducted during such year pursuant to this subparagraph.

(B) RulemakingNot later than July 1, 2021, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of the Treasury, shall establish through rulemaking—
(i)
the methodology the group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall use to determine the qualifying payment amount, differentiating by individual market, large group market, and small group market;
(ii)
the information such plan or issuer, respectively, shall share with the nonparticipating provider or nonparticipating facility, as applicable, when making such a determination;
(iii)
the geographic regions applied for purposes of this subparagraph, taking into account access to items and services in rural and underserved areas, including health professional shortage areas, as defined in section 254e of this title; and
(iv)
a process to receive complaints of violations of the requirements described in subclauses (I) and (II) of subparagraph (A)(i) by group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage.
Such rulemaking shall take into account payments that are made by such plan or issuer, respectively, that are not on a fee-for-service basis. Such methodology may account for relevant payment adjustments that take into account quality or facility type (including higher acuity settings and the case-mix of various facility types) that are otherwise taken into account for purposes of determining payment amounts with respect to participating facilities. In carrying out clause (iii), the Secretary shall consult with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to establish the geographic regions under such clause and shall periodically update such regions, as appropriate, taking into account the findings of the report submitted under section 109(a) of the No Surprises Act.
(3) DefinitionsIn this part and part E:
(A) Emergency department of a hospital

The term “emergency department of a hospital” includes a hospital outpatient department that provides emergency services (as defined in subparagraph (C)(i)).

(B) Emergency medical condition

The term “emergency medical condition” means a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that a prudent layperson, who possesses an average knowledge of health and medicine, could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in a condition described in clause (i), (ii), or (iii) of section 1867(e)(1)(A) of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 1395dd(e)(1)(A)].

(C) Emergency services
(i) In generalThe term “emergency services”, with respect to an emergency medical condition, means—
(I)
a medical screening examination (as required under section 1867 of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 1395dd], or as would be required under such section if such section applied to an independent freestanding emergency department) that is within the capability of the emergency department of a hospital or of an independent freestanding emergency department, as applicable, including ancillary services routinely available to the emergency department to evaluate such emergency medical condition; and
(II)
within the capabilities of the staff and facilities available at the hospital or the independent freestanding emergency department, as applicable, such further medical examination and treatment as are required under section 1395dd of this title, or as would be required under such section if such section applied to an independent freestanding emergency department, to stabilize the patient (regardless of the department of the hospital in which such further examination or treatment is furnished).
(ii) Inclusion of additional services
(I) In generalFor purposes of this subsection and section 300gg–131 of this title, in the case of a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee who is enrolled in a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer and who is furnished services described in clause (i) with respect to an emergency medical condition, the term “emergency services” shall include, unless each of the conditions described in subclause (II) are met, in addition to the items and services described in clause (i), items and services—
(aa)
for which benefits are provided or covered under the plan or coverage, respectively; and
(bb)
that are furnished by a nonparticipating provider or nonparticipating emergency facility (regardless of the department of the hospital in which such items or services are furnished) after the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee is stabilized and as part of outpatient observation or an inpatient or outpatient stay with respect to the visit in which the services described in clause (i) are furnished.
(II) ConditionsFor purposes of subclause (I), the conditions described in this subclause, with respect to a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee who is stabilized and furnished additional items and services described in subclause (I) after such stabilization by a provider or facility described in subclause (I), are the following;
(aa)
Such provider or facility determines such individual is able to travel using nonmedical transportation or nonemergency medical transportation.
(bb)
Such provider furnishing such additional items and services satisfies the notice and consent criteria of section 300gg–132(d) of this title with respect to such items and services.
(cc)
Such individual is in a condition to receive (as determined in accordance with guidelines issued by the Secretary pursuant to rulemaking) the information described in section 300gg–132 of this title and to provide informed consent under such section, in accordance with applicable State law.
(dd)
Such other conditions, as specified by the Secretary, such as conditions relating to coordinating care transitions to participating providers and facilities.
(D) Independent freestanding emergency departmentThe term “independent freestanding emergency department” means a health care facility that—
(i)
is geographically separate and distinct and licensed separately from a hospital under applicable State law; and
(ii)
provides any of the emergency services (as defined in subparagraph (C)(i)).
(E) Qualifying payment amount
(i) In generalThe term “qualifying payment amount” means, subject to clauses (ii) and (iii), with respect to a sponsor of a group health plan and health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage—
(I)
for an item or service furnished during 2022, the median of the contracted rates recognized by the plan or issuer, respectively (determined with respect to all such plans of such sponsor or all such coverage offered by such issuer that are offered within the same insurance market (specified in subclause (I), (II), (III), or (IV) of clause (iv)) as the plan or coverage) as the total maximum payment (including the cost-sharing amount imposed for such item or service and the amount to be paid by the plan or issuer, respectively) under such plans or coverage, respectively, on January 31, 2019, for the same or a similar item or service that is provided by a provider in the same or similar specialty and provided in the geographic region in which the item or service is furnished, consistent with the methodology established by the Secretary under paragraph (2)(B), increased by the percentage increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers (United States city average) over 2019, such percentage increase over 2020, and such percentage increase over 2021; and
(II)
for an item or service furnished during 2023 or a subsequent year, the qualifying payment amount determined under this clause for such an item or service furnished in the previous year, increased by the percentage increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers (United States city average) over such previous year.
(ii) New plans and coverageThe term “qualifying payment amount” means, with respect to a sponsor of a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage in a geographic region in which such sponsor or issuer, respectively, did not offer any group health plan or health insurance coverage during 2019—
(I)
for the first year in which such group health plan, group health insurance coverage, or individual health insurance coverage, respectively, is offered in such region, a rate (determined in accordance with a methodology established by the Secretary) for items and services that are covered by such plan or coverage and furnished during such first year; and
(II)
for each subsequent year such group health plan, group health insurance coverage, or individual health insurance coverage, respectively, is offered in such region, the qualifying payment amount determined under this clause for such items and services furnished in the previous year, increased by the percentage increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers (United States city average) over such previous year.
(iii) Insufficient information; newly covered items and servicesIn the case of a sponsor of a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage that does not have sufficient information to calculate the median of the contracted rates described in clause (i)(I) in 2019 (or, in the case of a newly covered item or service (as defined in clause (v)(III)), in the first coverage year (as defined in clause (v)(I)) for such item or service with respect to such plan or coverage) for an item or service (including with respect to provider type, or amount, of claims for items or services (as determined by the Secretary) provided in a particular geographic region (other than in a case with respect to which clause (ii) applies)) the term “qualifying payment amount”
(I)
for an item or service furnished during 2022 (or, in the case of a newly covered item or service, during the first coverage year for such item or service with respect to such plan or coverage), means such rate for such item or service determined by the sponsor or issuer, respectively, through use of any database that is determined, in accordance with rulemaking described in paragraph (2)(B), to not have any conflicts of interest and to have sufficient information reflecting allowed amounts paid to a health care provider or facility for relevant services furnished in the applicable geographic region (such as a State all-payer claims database);
(II)
for an item or service furnished in a subsequent year (before the first sufficient information year (as defined in clause (v)(II)) for such item or service with respect to such plan or coverage), means the rate determined under subclause (I) or this subclause, as applicable, for such item or service for the year previous to such subsequent year, increased by the percentage increase in the consumer price index for all urban consumers (United States city average) over such previous year;
(III)
for an item or service furnished in the first sufficient information year for such item or service with respect to such plan or coverage, has the meaning given the term qualifying payment amount in clause (i)(I), except that in applying such clause to such item or service, the reference to “furnished during 2022” shall be treated as a reference to furnished during such first sufficient information year, the reference to “in 2019”[1] shall be treated as a reference to such sufficient information year, and the increase described in such clause shall not be applied; and
(IV)
for an item or service furnished in any year subsequent to the first sufficient information year for such item or service with respect to such plan or coverage, has the meaning given such term in clause (i)(II), except that in applying such clause to such item or service, the reference to “furnished during 2023 or a subsequent year” shall be treated as a reference to furnished during the year after such first sufficient information year or a subsequent year.
(iv) Insurance marketFor purposes of clause (i)(I), a health insurance market specified in this clause is one of the following:
(II)
The large group market (other than plans described in subclause (IV)).
(III)
The small group market (other than plans described in subclause (IV)).
(IV)
In the case of a self-insured group health plan, other self-insured group health plans.
(v) DefinitionsFor purposes of this subparagraph:
(I) First coverage year

The term “first coverage year” means, with respect to a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer and an item or service for which coverage is not offered in 2019 under such plan or coverage, the first year after 2019 for which coverage for such item or service is offered under such plan or health insurance coverage.

(II) First sufficient information yearThe term “first sufficient information year” means, with respect to a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer—
(aa)
in the case of an item or service for which the plan or coverage does not have sufficient information to calculate the median of the contracted rates described in clause (i)(I) in 2019, the first year subsequent to 2022 for which the sponsor or issuer has such sufficient information to calculate the median of such contracted rates in the year previous to such first subsequent year; and
(bb)
in the case of a newly covered item or service, the first year subsequent to the first coverage year for such item or service with respect to such plan or coverage for which the sponsor or issuer has sufficient information to calculate the median of the contracted rates described in clause (i)(I) in the year previous to such first subsequent year.
(III) Newly covered item or service

The term “newly covered item or service” means, with respect to a group health plan or group or individual health insurance issuer offering health insurance coverage, an item or service for which coverage was not offered in 2019 under such plan or coverage, but is offered under such plan or coverage in a year after 2019.

(F) Nonparticipating emergency facility; participating emergency facility
(i) Nonparticipating emergency facility

The term “nonparticipating emergency facility” means, with respect to an item or service and a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer, an emergency department of a hospital, or an independent freestanding emergency department, that does not have a contractual relationship directly or indirectly with the plan or issuer, respectively, for furnishing such item or service under the plan or coverage, respectively.

(ii) Participating emergency facility

The term “participating emergency facility” means, with respect to an item or service and a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer, an emergency department of a hospital, or an independent freestanding emergency department, that has a contractual relationship directly or indirectly with the plan or issuer, respectively, with respect to the furnishing of such an item or service at such facility.

(G) Nonparticipating providers; participating providers
(i) Nonparticipating provider

The term “nonparticipating provider” means, with respect to an item or service and a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer, a physician or other health care provider who is acting within the scope of practice of that provider’s license or certification under applicable State law and who does not have a contractual relationship with the plan or issuer, respectively, for furnishing such item or service under the plan or coverage, respectively.

(ii) Participating provider

The term “participating provider” means, with respect to an item or service and a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer, a physician or other health care provider who is acting within the scope of practice of that provider’s license or certification under applicable State law and who has a contractual relationship with the plan or issuer, respectively, for furnishing such item or service under the plan or coverage, respectively.

(H) Recognized amountThe term “recognized amount” means, with respect to an item or service furnished by a nonparticipating provider or nonparticipating emergency facility during a year and a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer—
(i)
subject to clause (iii), in the case of such item or service furnished in a State that has in effect a specified State law with respect to such plan, coverage, or issuer, respectively; such a nonparticipating provider or nonparticipating emergency facility; and such an item or service, the amount determined in accordance with such law;
(ii)
subject to clause (iii), in the case of such item or service furnished in a State that does not have in effect a specified State law, with respect to such plan, coverage, or issuer, respectively; such a nonparticipating provider or nonparticipating emergency facility; and such an item or service, the amount that is the qualifying payment amount (as defined in subparagraph (E)) for such year and determined in accordance with rulemaking described in paragraph (2)(B)) for such item or service; or
(iii)
in the case of such item or service furnished in a State with an All-Payer Model Agreement under section 1115A of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 1315a], the amount that the State approves under such system for such item or service so furnished.
(I) Specified State law

The term “specified State law” means, with respect to a State, an item or service furnished by a nonparticipating provider or nonparticipating emergency facility during a year and a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer, a State law that provides for a method for determining the total amount payable under such a plan, coverage, or issuer, respectively (to the extent such State law applies to such plan, coverage, or issuer, subject to section 1144 of title 29) in the case of a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee covered under such plan or coverage and receiving such item or service from such a nonparticipating provider or nonparticipating emergency facility.

(J) Stabilize

The term “to stabilize”, with respect to an emergency medical condition (as defined in subparagraph (B)), has the meaning give in section 1867(e)(3) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395dd(e)(3)).

(K) Out-of-network rateThe term “out-of-network rate” means, with respect to an item or service furnished in a State during a year to a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee of a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer receiving such item or service from a nonparticipating provider or nonparticipating emergency facility
(i)
subject to clause (iii), in the case of such item or service furnished in a State that has in effect a specified State law with respect to such plan, coverage, or issuer, respectively; such a nonparticipating provider or nonparticipating emergency facility; and such an item or service, the amount determined in accordance with such law;
(ii) subject to clause (iii), in the case such State does not have in effect such a law with respect to such item or service, plan, and provider or facility—
(I)
subject to subclause (II), if the provider or facility (as applicable) and such plan or coverage agree on an amount of payment (including if such agreed on amount is the initial payment sent by the plan under subsection (a)(1)(C)(iv)(I), subsection (b)(1)(C), or section 300gg–112(a)(3)(A) of this title, as applicable, or is agreed on through open negotiations under subsection (c)(1)) with respect to such item or service, such agreed on amount; or
(II)
if such provider or facility (as applicable) and such plan or coverage enter the independent dispute resolution process under subsection (c) and do not so agree before the date on which a certified IDR entity (as defined in paragraph (4) of such subsection) makes a determination with respect to such item or service under such subsection, the amount of such determination; or
(iii)
in the case such State has an All-Payer Model Agreement under section 1115A of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 1315a], the amount that the State approves under such system for such item or service so furnished.
(L) Cost-sharing

The term “cost-sharing” includes copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.

(b) Coverage of non-emergency services performed by nonparticipating providers at certain participating facilities
(1) In generalIn the case of items or services (other than emergency services to which subsection (a) applies) for which any benefits are provided or covered by a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage furnished to a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee of such plan or coverage by a nonparticipating provider (as defined in subsection (a)(3)(G)(i)) (and who, with respect to such items and services, has not satisfied the notice and consent criteria of section 300gg–132(d) of this title) with respect to a visit (as defined by the Secretary in accordance with paragraph (2)(B)) at a participating health care facility (as defined in paragraph (2)(A)), with respect to such plan or coverage, respectively, the plan or coverage, respectively—
(A)
shall not impose on such participant, beneficiary, or enrollee a cost-sharing requirement for such items and services so furnished that is greater than the cost-sharing requirement that would apply under such plan or coverage, respectively, had such items or services been furnished by a participating provider (as defined in subsection (a)(3)(G)(ii));
(B)
shall calculate such cost-sharing requirement as if the total amount that would have been charged for such items and services by such participating provider were equal to the recognized amount (as defined in subsection (a)(3)(H)) for such items and services, plan or coverage, and year;
(C)
not later than 30 calendar days after the bill for such services is transmitted by such provider, shall send to the provider an initial payment or notice of denial of payment;
(D)
shall pay a total plan or coverage payment directly, in accordance, if applicable, with the timing requirement described in subsection (c)(6), to such provider furnishing such items and services to such participant, beneficiary, or enrollee that is, with application of any initial payment under subparagraph (C), equal to the amount by which the out-of-network rate (as defined in subsection (a)(3)(K)) for such items and services involved exceeds the cost-sharing amount imposed under the plan or coverage, respectively, for such items and services (as determined in accordance with subparagraphs (A) and (B)) and year; and
(E)
shall count toward any in-network deductible and in-network out-of-pocket maximums (as applicable) applied under the plan or coverage, respectively, any cost-sharing payments made by the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee (and such in-network deductible and out-of-pocket maximums shall be applied) with respect to such items and services so furnished in the same manner as if such cost-sharing payments were with respect to items and services furnished by a participating provider.
(2) DefinitionsIn this section:
(A) Participating health care facility
(i) In general

The term “participating health care facility” means, with respect to an item or service and a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage, a health care facility described in clause (ii) that has a direct or indirect contractual relationship with the plan or issuer, respectively, with respect to the furnishing of such an item or service at the facility.

(ii) Health care facility describedA health care facility described in this clause, with respect to a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage, is each of the following:
(I)
A hospital (as defined in 1861(e) of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 1395x(e)]).
(II)
A hospital outpatient department.
(III)
A critical access hospital (as defined in section 1861(mm)(1) of such Act [42 U.S.C. 1395x(mm)(1)]).
(IV)
An ambulatory surgical center described in section 1833(i)(1)(A) of such Act [42 U.S.C. 1395l(i)(1)(A)].
(V)
Any other facility, specified by the Secretary, that provides items or services for which coverage is provided under the plan or coverage, respectively.
(B) Visit

The term “visit” shall, with respect to items and services furnished to an individual at a health care facility, include equipment and devices, telemedicine services, imaging services, laboratory services, preoperative and postoperative services, and such other items and services as the Secretary may specify, regardless of whether or not the provider furnishing such items or services is at the facility.

(c) Determination of out-of-network rates to be paid by health plans; independent dispute resolution process
(1) Determination through open negotiation
(A) In general

With respect to an item or service furnished in a year by a nonparticipating provider or a nonparticipating facility, with respect to a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage, in a State described in subsection (a)(3)(K)(ii) with respect to such plan or coverage and provider or facility, and for which a payment is required to be made by the plan or coverage pursuant to subsection (a)(1) or (b)(1), the provider or facility (as applicable) or plan or coverage may, during the 30-day period beginning on the day the provider or facility receives an initial payment or a notice of denial of payment from the plan or coverage regarding a claim for payment for such item or service, initiate open negotiations under this paragraph between such provider or facility and plan or coverage for purposes of determining, during the open negotiation period, an amount agreed on by such provider or facility, respectively, and such plan or coverage for payment (including any cost-sharing) for such item or service. For purposes of this subsection, the open negotiation period, with respect to an item or service, is the 30-day period beginning on the date of initiation of the negotiations with respect to such item or service.

(B) Accessing independent dispute resolution process in case of failed negotiations

In the case of open negotiations pursuant to subparagraph (A), with respect to an item or service, that do not result in a determination of an amount of payment for such item or service by the last day of the open negotiation period described in such subparagraph with respect to such item or service, the provider or facility (as applicable) or group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage that was party to such negotiations may, during the 4-day period beginning on the day after such open negotiation period, initiate the independent dispute resolution process under paragraph (2) with respect to such item or service. The independent dispute resolution process shall be initiated by a party pursuant to the previous sentence by submission to the other party and to the Secretary of a notification (containing such information as specified by the Secretary) and for purposes of this subsection, the date of initiation of such process shall be the date of such submission or such other date specified by the Secretary pursuant to regulations that is not later than the date of receipt of such notification by both the other party and the Secretary.

(2) Independent dispute resolution process available in case of failed open negotiations
(A) Establishment

Not later than 1 year after December 27, 2020, the Secretary, jointly with the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of the Treasury, shall establish by regulation one independent dispute resolution process (referred to in this subsection as the “IDR process”) under which, in the case of an item or service with respect to which a provider or facility (as applicable) or group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage submits a notification under paragraph (1)(B) (in this subsection referred to as a “qualified IDR item or service”), a certified IDR entity under paragraph (4) determines, subject to subparagraph (B) and in accordance with the succeeding provisions of this subsection, the amount of payment under the plan or coverage for such item or service furnished by such provider or facility.

(B) Authority to continue negotiations

Under the independent dispute resolution process, in the case that the parties to a determination for a qualified IDR item or service agree on a payment amount for such item or service during such process but before the date on which the entity selected with respect to such determination under paragraph (4) makes such determination under paragraph (5), such amount shall be treated for purposes of subsection (a)(3)(K)(ii) as the amount agreed to by such parties for such item or service. In the case of an agreement described in the previous sentence, the independent dispute resolution process shall provide for a method to determine how to allocate between the parties to such determination the payment of the compensation of the entity selected with respect to such determination.

(C) Clarification

A nonparticipating provider may not, with respect to an item or service furnished by such provider, submit a notification under paragraph (1)(B) if such provider is exempt from the requirement under subsection (a) of section 300gg–132 of this title with respect to such item or service pursuant to subsection (b) of such section.

(3) Treatment of batching of items and services
(A) In generalUnder the IDR process, the Secretary shall specify criteria under which multiple qualified IDR dispute items and services are permitted to be considered jointly as part of a single determination by an entity for purposes of encouraging the efficiency (including minimizing costs) of the IDR process. Such items and services may be so considered only if—
(i)
such items and services to be included in such determination are furnished by the same provider or facility;
(ii)
payment for such items and services is required to be made by the same group health plan or health insurance issuer;
(iii)
such items and services are related to the treatment of a similar condition; and
(iv)
such items and services were furnished during the 30 day [2] period following the date on which the first item or service included with respect to such determination was furnished or an alternative period as determined by the Secretary, for use in limited situations, such as by the consent of the parties or in the case of low-volume items and services, to encourage procedural efficiency and minimize health plan and provider administrative costs.
(B) Treatment of bundled payments

In carrying out subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall provide that, in the case of items and services which are included by a provider or facility as part of a bundled payment, such items and services included in such bundled payment may be part of a single determination under this subsection.

(4) Certification and selection of IDR entities
(A) In generalThe Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor and Secretary of the Treasury, shall establish a process to certify (including to recertify) entities under this paragraph. Such process shall ensure that an entity so certified—
(i)
has (directly or through contracts or other arrangements) sufficient medical, legal, and other expertise and sufficient staffing to make determinations described in paragraph (5) on a timely basis;
(ii) is not—
(I)
a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage, provider, or facility;
(II)
an affiliate or a subsidiary of such a group health plan or health insurance issuer, provider, or facility; or
(III)
an affiliate or subsidiary of a professional or trade association of such group health plans or health insurance issuers or of providers or facilities;
(iii)
carries out the responsibilities of such an entity in accordance with this subsection;
(iv)
meets appropriate indicators of fiscal integrity;
(v)
maintains the confidentiality (in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Secretary) of individually identifiable health information obtained in the course of conducting such determinations;
(vi)
does not under the IDR process carry out any determination with respect to which the entity would not pursuant to subclause (I), (II), or (III) of subparagraph (F)(i) be eligible for selection; and
(vii)
meets such other requirements as determined appropriate by the Secretary.
(B) Period of certification

Subject to subparagraph (C), each certification (including a recertification) of an entity under the process described in subparagraph (A) shall be for a 5-year period.

(C) Revocation

A certification of an entity under this paragraph may be revoked under the process described in subparagraph (A) if the entity has a pattern or practice of noncompliance with any of the requirements described in such subparagraph.

(D) Petition for denial or withdrawal

The process described in subparagraph (A) shall ensure that an individual, provider, facility, or group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage may petition for a denial of a certification or a revocation of a certification with respect to an entity under this paragraph for failure of meeting a requirement of this subsection.

(E) Sufficient number of entities

The process described in subparagraph (A) shall ensure that a sufficient number of entities are certified under this paragraph to ensure the timely and efficient provision of determinations described in paragraph (5).

(F) Selection of certified IDR entityThe Secretary shall, with respect to the determination of the amount of payment under this subsection of an item or service, provide for a method—
(i) that allows for the group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage and the nonparticipating provider or the nonparticipating emergency facility (as applicable) involved in a notification under paragraph (1)(B) to jointly select, not later than the last day of the 3-business day period following the date of the initiation of the process with respect to such item or service, for purposes of making such determination, an entity certified under this paragraph that—
(I)
is not a party to such determination or an employee or agent of such a party;
(II)
does not have a material familial, financial, or professional relationship with such a party; and
(III)
does not otherwise have a conflict of interest with such a party (as determined by the Secretary); and
(ii) that requires, in the case such parties do not make such selection by such last day, the Secretary to, not later than 6 business days after such date of initiation—
(I)
select such an entity that satisfies subclauses (I) through (III) of clause (i)); and
(II)
provide notification of such selection to the provider or facility (as applicable) and the plan or issuer (as applicable) party to such determination.
An entity selected pursuant to the previous sentence to make a determination described in such sentence shall be referred to in this subsection as the “certified IDR entity” with respect to such determination.
(5) Payment determination
(A) In generalNot later than 30 days after the date of selection of the certified IDR entity with respect to a determination for a qualified IDR item or service, the certified IDR entity shall—
(i)
taking into account the considerations specified in subparagraph (C), select one of the offers submitted under subparagraph (B) to be the amount of payment for such item or service determined under this subsection for purposes of subsection (a)(1) or (b)(1), as applicable; and
(ii)
notify the provider or facility and the group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage party to such determination of the offer selected under clause (i).
(B) Submission of offersNot later than 10 days after the date of selection of the certified IDR entity with respect to a determination for a qualified IDR item or service, the provider or facility and the group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage party to such determination—
(i) shall each submit to the certified IDR entity with respect to such determination—
(I)
an offer for a payment amount for such item or service furnished by such provider or facility; and
(II)
such information as requested by the certified IDR entity relating to such offer; and
(ii)
may each submit to the certified IDR entity with respect to such determination any information relating to such offer submitted by either party, including information relating to any circumstance described in subparagraph (C)(ii).
(C) Considerations in determination
(i) In generalIn determining which offer is the payment to be applied pursuant to this paragraph, the certified IDR entity, with respect to the determination for a qualified IDR item or service shall consider—
(I)
the qualifying payment amounts (as defined in subsection (a)(3)(E)) for the applicable year for items or services that are comparable to the qualified IDR item or service and that are furnished in the same geographic region (as defined by the Secretary for purposes of such subsection) as such qualified IDR item or service; and
(II)
subject to subparagraph (D), information on any circumstance described in clause (ii), such information as requested in subparagraph (B)(i)(II), and any additional information provided in subparagraph (B)(ii).
(ii) Additional circumstancesFor purposes of clause (i)(II), the circumstances described in this clause are, with respect to a qualified IDR item or service of a nonparticipating provider, nonparticipating emergency facility, group health plan, or health insurance issuer of group or individual health insurance coverage the following:
(I)
The level of training, experience, and quality and outcomes measurements of the provider or facility that furnished such item or service (such as those endorsed by the consensus-based entity authorized in section 1890 of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 1395aaa]).
(II)
The market share held by the nonparticipating provider or facility or that of the plan or issuer in the geographic region in which the item or service was provided.
(III)
The acuity of the individual receiving such item or service or the complexity of furnishing such item or service to such individual.
(IV)
The teaching status, case mix, and scope of services of the nonparticipating facility that furnished such item or service.
(V)
Demonstrations of good faith efforts (or lack of good faith efforts) made by the nonparticipating provider or nonparticipating facility or the plan or issuer to enter into network agreements and, if applicable, contracted rates between the provider or facility, as applicable, and the plan or issuer, as applicable, during the previous 4 plan years.
(D) Prohibition on consideration of certain factors

In determining which offer is the payment to be applied with respect to qualified IDR items and services furnished by a provider or facility, the certified IDR entity with respect to a determination shall not consider usual and customary charges, the amount that would have been billed by such provider or facility with respect to such items and services had the provisions of section 300gg–131 or 300gg–132 of this title (as applicable) not applied, or the payment or reimbursement rate for such items and services furnished by such provider or facility payable by a public payor, including under the Medicare program under title XVIII of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.], under the Medicaid program under title XIX of such Act [42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq.], under the Children’s Health Insurance Program under title XXI of such Act [42 U.S.C. 1397aa et seq.], under the TRICARE program under chapter 55 of title 10, or under chapter 17 of title 38.

(E) Effects of determination
(i) In generalA determination of a certified IDR entity under subparagraph (A)—
(I)
shall be binding upon the parties involved, in the absence of a fraudulent claim or evidence of misrepresentation of facts presented to the IDR entity involved regarding such claim; and
(II)
shall not be subject to judicial review, except in a case described in any of paragraphs (1) through (4) of section 10(a) of title 9.
(ii) Suspension of certain subsequent IDR requests

In the case of a determination of a certified IDR entity under subparagraph (A), with respect to an initial notification submitted under paragraph (1)(B) with respect to qualified IDR items and services and the two parties involved with such notification, the party that submitted such notification may not submit during the 90-day period following such determination a subsequent notification under such paragraph involving the same other party to such notification with respect to such an item or service that was the subject of such initial notification.

(iii) Subsequent submission of requests permitted

In the case of a notification that pursuant to clause (ii) is not permitted to be submitted under paragraph (1)(B) during a 90-day period specified in such clause, if the end of the open negotiation period specified in paragraph (1)(A), that but for this clause would otherwise apply with respect to such notification, occurs during such 90-day period, such paragraph (1)(B) shall be applied as if the reference in such paragraph to the 4-day period beginning on the day after such open negotiation period were instead a reference to the 30-day period beginning on the day after the last day of such 90-day period.

(iv) Reports

The Secretary, jointly with the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of the Treasury, shall examine the impact of the application of clause (ii) and whether the application of such clause delays payment determinations or impacts early, alternative resolution of claims (such as through open negotiations), and shall submit to Congress, not later than 2 years after the date of implementation of such clause an interim report (and not later than 4 years after such date of implementation, a final report) on whether any group health plans or health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage or types of such plans or coverage have a pattern or practice of routine denial, low payment, or down-coding of claims, or otherwise abuse the 90-day period described in such clause, including recommendations on ways to discourage such a pattern or practice.

(F) Costs of independent dispute resolution processIn the case of a notification under paragraph (1)(B) submitted by a nonparticipating provider, nonparticipating emergency facility, group health plan, or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage and submitted to a certified IDR entity—
(i)
if such entity makes a determination with respect to such notification under subparagraph (A), the party whose offer is not chosen under such subparagraph shall be responsible for paying all fees charged by such entity; and
(ii)
if the parties reach a settlement with respect to such notification prior to such a determination, each party shall pay half of all fees charged by such entity, unless the parties otherwise agree.
(6) Timing of payment

The total plan or coverage payment required pursuant to subsection (a)(1) or (b)(1), with respect to a qualified IDR item or service for which a determination is made under paragraph (5)(A) or with respect to an item or service for which a payment amount is determined under open negotiations under paragraph (1), shall be made directly to the nonparticipating provider or facility not later than 30 days after the date on which such determination is made.

(7) Publication of information relating to the IDR process
(A) Publication of informationFor each calendar quarter in 2022 and each calendar quarter in a subsequent year, the Secretary shall make available on the public website of the Department of Health and Human Services
(i)
the number of notifications submitted under paragraph (1)(B) during such calendar quarter;
(ii)
the size of the provider practices and the size of the facilities submitting notifications under paragraph (1)(B) during such calendar quarter;
(iii)
the number of such notifications with respect to which a determination was made under paragraph (5)(A);
(iv)
the information described in subparagraph (B) with respect to each notification with respect to which such a determination was so made;
(v)
the number of times the payment amount determined (or agreed to) under this subsection exceeds the qualifying payment amount, specified by items and services;
(vi)
the amount of expenditures made by the Secretary during such calendar quarter to carry out the IDR process;
(vii)
the total amount of fees paid under paragraph (8) during such calendar quarter; and
(viii)
the total amount of compensation paid to certified IDR entities under paragraph (5)(F) during such calendar quarter.
(B) InformationFor purposes of subparagraph (A), the information described in this subparagraph is, with respect to a notification under paragraph (1)(B) by a nonparticipating provider, nonparticipating emergency facility, group health plan, or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage—
(i)
a description of each item and service included with respect to such notification;
(ii)
the geography in which the items and services with respect to such notification were provided;
(iii)
the amount of the offer submitted under paragraph (5)(B) by the group health plan or health insurance issuer (as applicable) and by the nonparticipating provider or nonparticipating emergency facility (as applicable) expressed as a percentage of the qualifying payment amount;
(iv)
whether the offer selected by the certified IDR entity under paragraph (5) to be the payment applied was the offer submitted by such plan or issuer (as applicable) or by such provider or facility (as applicable) and the amount of such offer so selected expressed as a percentage of the qualifying payment amount;
(v)
the category and practice specialty of each such provider or facility involved in furnishing such items and services;
(vi)
the identity of the health plan or health insurance issuer, provider, or facility, with respect to the notification;
(vii)
the length of time in making each determination;
(viii)
the compensation paid to the certified IDR entity with respect to the settlement or determination; and
(ix)
any other information specified by the Secretary.
(C) IDR entity requirements

For 2022 and each subsequent year, an IDR entity, as a condition of certification as an IDR entity, shall submit to the Secretary such information as the Secretary determines necessary to carry out the provisions of this subsection.

(D) Clarification

The Secretary shall ensure the public reporting under this paragraph does not contain information that would disclose privileged or confidential information of a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage or of a provider or facility.

(8) Administrative fee
(A) In general

Each party to a determination under paragraph (5) to which an entity is selected under paragraph (3) [3] in a year shall pay to the Secretary, at such time and in such manner as specified by the Secretary, a fee for participating in the IDR process with respect to such determination in an amount described in subparagraph (B) for such year.

(B) Amount of fee

The amount described in this subparagraph for a year is an amount established by the Secretary in a manner such that the total amount of fees paid under this paragraph for such year is estimated to be equal to the amount of expenditures estimated to be made by the Secretary for such year in carrying out the IDR process.

(9) Waiver authority

The Secretary may modify any deadline or other timing requirement specified under this subsection (other than the establishment date for the IDR process under paragraph (2)(A) and other than under paragraph (6)) in cases of extenuating circumstances, as specified by the Secretary, or to ensure that all claims that occur during a 90-day period described in paragraph (5)(E)(ii), but with respect to which a notification is not permitted by reason of such paragraph to be submitted under paragraph (1)(B) during such period, are eligible for the IDR process.

(d) Certain access fees to certain databases

In the case of a sponsor of a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage that, pursuant to subsection (a)(3)(E)(iii), uses a database described in such subsection to determine a rate to apply under such subsection for an item or service by reason of having insufficient information described in such subsection with respect to such item or service, such sponsor or issuer shall cover the cost for access to such database.

(e) Transparency regarding in-network and out-of-network deductibles and out-of-pocket limitationsA group health plan or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage and providing or covering any benefit with respect to items or services shall include, in clear writing, on any physical or electronic plan or insurance identification card issued to the participants, beneficiaries, or enrollees in the plan or coverage the following:
(1)
Any deductible applicable to such plan or coverage.
(2)
Any out-of-pocket maximum limitation applicable to such plan or coverage.
(3)
A telephone number and Internet website address through which such individual may seek consumer assistance information, such as information related to hospitals and urgent care facilities that have in effect a contractual relationship with such plan or coverage for furnishing items and services under such plan or coverage [4]
(f) Advanced explanation of benefits
(1) In generalFor plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2022, each group health plan, or a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall, with respect to a notification submitted under section 300gg–136 of this title by a health care provider or health care facility to the plan or issuer for a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee under plan or coverage scheduled to receive an item or service from the provider or facility (or authorized representative of such participant, beneficiary, or enrollee), not later than 1 business day (or, in the case such item or service was so scheduled at least 10 business days before such item or service is to be furnished (or in the case of a request made to such plan or coverage by such participant, beneficiary, or enrollee), 3 business days) after the date on which the plan or coverage receives such notification (or such request), provide to the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee (through mail or electronic means, as requested by the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee) a notification (in clear and understandable language) including the following:
(A) Whether or not the provider or facility is a participating provider or a participating facility with respect to the plan or coverage with respect to the furnishing of such item or service and—
(i)
in the case the provider or facility is a participating provider or facility with respect to the plan or coverage with respect to the furnishing of such item or service, the contracted rate under such plan or coverage for such item or service (based on the billing and diagnostic codes provided by such provider or facility); and
(ii)
in the case the provider or facility is a nonparticipating provider or facility with respect to such plan or coverage, a description of how such individual may obtain information on providers and facilities that, with respect to such plan or coverage, are participating providers and facilities, if any.
(B)
The good faith estimate included in the notification received from the provider or facility (if applicable) based on such codes.
(C)
A good faith estimate of the amount the plan or coverage is responsible for paying for items and services included in the estimate described in subparagraph (B).
(D)
A good faith estimate of the amount of any cost-sharing for which the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee would be responsible for such item or service (as of the date of such notification).
(E)
A good faith estimate of the amount that the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee has incurred toward meeting the limit of the financial responsibility (including with respect to deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums) under the plan or coverage (as of the date of such notification).
(F)
In the case such item or service is subject to a medical management technique (including concurrent review, prior authorization, and step-therapy or fail-first protocols) for coverage under the plan or coverage, a disclaimer that coverage for such item or service is subject to such medical management technique.
(G)
A disclaimer that the information provided in the notification is only an estimate based on the items and services reasonably expected, at the time of scheduling (or requesting) the item or service, to be furnished and is subject to change.
(H)
Any other information or disclaimer the plan or coverage determines appropriate that is consistent with information and disclaimers required under this section.
(2) Authority to modify timing requirements in the case of specified items and services
(A) In general

In the case of a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee scheduled to receive an item or service that is a specified item or service (as defined in subparagraph (B)), the Secretary may modify any timing requirements relating to the provision of the notification described in paragraph (1) to such participant, beneficiary, or enrollee with respect to such item or service. Any modification made by the Secretary pursuant to the previous sentence may not result in the provision of such notification after such participant, beneficiary, or enrollee has been furnished such item or service.

(B) Specified item or service defined

For purposes of subparagraph (A), the term “specified item or service” means an item or service that has low utilization or significant variation in costs (such as when furnished as part of a complex treatment), as specified by the Secretary.

(July 1, 1944, ch. 373, title XXVII, § 2799A–1, as added and amended Pub. L. 116–260, div. BB, title I, §§ 102(a)(1), 103(a), 107(a), 111(a), Dec. 27, 2020, 134 Stat. 2759, 2797, 2858, 2861.)


[1]  See References in Text note below.

[2]  So in original. Probably should be “30-day”.

[3]  So in original. Probably should be “paragraph (4)”.

[4]  So in original. Probably should be followed by a period.
Applicability of Amendment

Amendment of section by section 107(a) of div. BB of Pub. L. 116–260 applicable with respect to plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2022. See 2020 Amendment note below.

References in Text

Section 109(a) of the No Surprises Act, referred to in subsec. (a)(2)(B), is section 109(a) of Pub. L. 116–260, div. BB, title I, Dec. 27, 2020, 134 Stat. 2859, which is not classified to the Code.

The phrase “in 2019”, referred to in subsec. (a)(3)(E)(iii)(III), does not appear in cl. (i)(I) of subsec. (a)(3)(E). However, subsec. (a)(3)(E)(iii)(III) of section 9816 of Title 26, Internal Revenue Code, which contains text similar to that in this subclause, refers to the phrase “on January 31, 2019”, which does appear in cl. (i)(I).

The Social Security Act, referred to in subsec. (c)(5)(D), is act Aug. 14, 1935, ch. 531, 49 Stat. 620. Titles XVIII, XIX, and XXI of the Act are classified generally to subchapters XVIII (§ 1395 et seq.), XIX (§ 1396 et seq.), and XXI (§ 1397aa et seq.), respectively, of chapter 7 of this title. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see section 1305 of this title and Tables.

Amendments

2020—Subsecs. (c), (d). Pub. L. 116–260, § 103(a), added subsec. (c) and redesignated former subsec. (c) as (d).

Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 116–260, § 107(a), added subsec. (e).

Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 116–260, § 111(a), added subsec. (f).

Effective Date of 2020 Amendment

Amendment by section 107(a) of div. BB of Pub. L. 116–260 applicable with respect to plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2022, see section 107(d) of div. BB of Pub. L. 116–260, set out as a note under section 9816 of Title 26, Internal Revenue Code.

Effective Date

Section applicable with respect to plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2022, see section 102(e) of div. BB of Pub. L. 116–260, set out as an Effective Date of 2020 Amendment note under section 8902 of Title 5, Government Organization and Employees.

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