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SENATE BILL NO. 303
INTRODUCED BY F. THOMAS, S. ANDERSON
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT PROHIBITING A JUDGMENT LIEN FOR ATTORNEY COMPENSATION ON WORKERS' COMPENSATION INSURER PAYMENTS FOR MEDICAL SERVICES; AND AMENDING SECTION 39-71-704, MCA."
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Section 39-71-704, MCA, is amended to read:
"39-71-704. Payment of medical, hospital, and related services -- fee schedules and hospital rates -- fee limitation -- no lien attachment to medical services payments. (1) In addition to the compensation provided under this chapter and as an additional benefit separate and apart from compensation benefits actually provided, the following must be furnished:
(a) After the happening of a compensable injury and subject to other provisions of this chapter, the insurer shall furnish reasonable primary medical services for conditions resulting from the injury for those periods as the nature of the injury or the process of recovery requires.
(b) The insurer shall furnish secondary medical services only upon a clear demonstration of cost-effectiveness of the services in returning the injured worker to actual employment.
(c) The insurer shall replace or repair prescription eyeglasses, prescription contact lenses, prescription hearing aids, and dentures that are damaged or lost as a result of an injury, as defined in 39-71-119, arising out of and in the course of employment.
(d) The insurer shall reimburse a worker for reasonable travel expenses incurred in travel to a medical provider for treatment of an injury only if the travel is incurred at the request of the insurer. Reimbursement must be at the rates allowed for reimbursement of travel by state employees.
(e) Except for the repair or replacement of a prosthesis furnished as a result of an industrial injury, the benefits provided for in this section terminate when they are not used for a period of 60 consecutive months.
(f) Notwithstanding subsection (1)(a), the insurer may not be required to furnish, after the worker has achieved medical stability, palliative or maintenance care except:
(i) when provided to a worker who has been determined to be permanently totally disabled and for whom it is medically necessary to monitor administration of prescription medication to maintain the worker in a medically stationary condition; or
(ii) when necessary to monitor the status of a prosthetic device.
(g) If the worker's treating physician believes that palliative or maintenance care that would otherwise not be compensable under subsection (1)(f) is appropriate to enable the worker to continue current employment or that there is a clear probability of returning the worker to employment, the treating physician shall first request approval from the insurer for the treatment. If approval is not granted, the treating physician may request approval from the department for the treatment. The department shall appoint a panel of physicians, including at least one treating physician from the area of specialty in which the injured worker is being treated, pursuant to rules that the department may adopt, to review the proposed treatment and determine its appropriateness.
(h) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the department, by rule and upon the advice of the professional licensing boards of practitioners affected by the rule, may exclude from compensability any medical treatment that the department finds to be unscientific, unproved, outmoded, or experimental.
(2) The department shall annually establish a schedule of fees for medical services not provided at a hospital that are necessary for the treatment of injured workers. Charges submitted by providers must be the usual and customary charges for nonworkers' compensation patients. The department may require insurers to submit information to be used in establishing the schedule.
(3) (a) The department shall establish rates for hospital services necessary for the treatment of injured workers.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (3)(g), for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1997, rates for services provided at a
hospital must be the greater of: (i) 69% of the hospital's January 1, 1997, usual and customary charges; or (ii) the discount factor established by the department that was in effect on June 30, 1997, for the hospital. The discount
factor for a hospital formed by the merger of two or more existing hospitals is computed by using the weighted average of
the discount factors in effect at the time of the merger.
(B) THE DISCOUNT FACTOR FOR A HOSPITAL FORMED BY THE MERGER OF TWO OR MORE EXISTING HOSPITALS IS COMPUTED BY USING THE WEIGHTED AVERAGE OF THE DISCOUNT FACTORS IN EFFECT AT THE TIME OF THE MERGER.
(c)(b)(C) Except as provided in subsection (3)(g), beginning July 1, 1998, (3)(f) (3)(G), the department shall adjust
hospital discount factors so that the rate of payment does not exceed the annual percentage increase in the state's average
weekly wage, as defined in 39-71-116. (d)(c)(D) The department may establish a fee schedule for hospital outpatient services rendered on or after July 1, 1998.
The fee schedule must, in the aggregate, provide for fees that are equal to the statewide average discount factors paid to
hospitals to provide the same or equivalent procedure to workers' compensation hospital outpatients. (e)(d)(E) The discount factors established by the department pursuant to this subsection (3) may not be less than
medicaid reimbursement rates. (f)(e)(F) For services available in Montana, insurers are not required to pay facilities located outside Montana rates that
are greater than those allowed for services delivered in Montana. (g)(f)(G) For a hospital licensed as a medical assistance facility pursuant to Title 50, chapter 5, the rate for services is
the hospital's usual and customary charge. Fees paid to a hospital licensed as a medical assistance facility are not subject to
the limitation provided in subsection (4).
(4) The percentage increase in medical costs payable under this chapter may not exceed the annual percentage increase in the state's average weekly wage, as defined in 39-71-116.
(5) Payment pursuant to reimbursement agreements between managed care organizations or preferred provider organizations and insurers is not bound by the provisions of this section.
(6) Disputes between an insurer and a medical service provider regarding the amount of a fee for medical services must be resolved by a hearing before the department upon written application of a party to the dispute.
(7) (a) After the initial visit, the worker is responsible for 20%, but not to exceed $10, of the cost of each subsequent visit to a medical service provider for treatment relating to a compensable injury or occupational disease, unless the visit is to a medical service provider in a managed care organization as requested by the insurer or is a visit to a preferred provider as requested by the insurer.
(b) After the initial visit, the worker is responsible for $25 of the cost of each subsequent visit to a hospital emergency department for treatment relating to a compensable injury or occupational disease.
(c) "Visit", as used in subsections (7)(a) and (7)(b), means each time that the worker obtains services relating to a compensable injury or occupational disease from:
(i) a treating physician;
(ii) a physical therapist;
(iii) a psychologist; or
(iv) hospital outpatient services available in a nonhospital setting.
(d) A worker is not responsible for the cost of a subsequent visit pursuant to subsection (7)(a) if the visit is an examination requested by an insurer pursuant to 39-71-605.
(8) A judgment lien for attorney compensation does not attach to payments for medical services made by an insurer directly to a hospital or other provider pursuant to this section.
(9) (A) FOR MEDICAL BENEFIT PAYMENTS MADE PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION, THE INSURER SHALL PAY REASONABLE COSTS AND ATTORNEY FEES AS ESTABLISHED BY THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT IF:
(I) THE INSURER DENIES LIABILITY FOR A CLAIM FOR MEDICAL BENEFITS OR TERMINATES MEDICAL BENEFITS AND THE MEDICAL BENEFITS ARE LATER ADJUDGED COMPENSABLE BY THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT;
(II) THE INSURER DENIES LIABILITY FOR A CLAIM FOR MEDICAL BENEFITS OR TERMINATES MEDICAL BENEFITS AND THE MEDICAL BENEFITS ARE LATER SETTLED LESS THAN 60 DAYS PRIOR TO THE SCHEDULED DATE OF HEARING BEFORE THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT; OR
(III) THE INSURER PAYS OR SUBMITS A WRITTEN OFFER OF PAYMENT OF MEDICAL BENEFITS UNDER CHAPTER 71 OR 72 OF THIS TITLE AND THE CONTROVERSY RELATES TO THE AMOUNT OF BENEFITS DUE, THE CASE IS BROUGHT BEFORE THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION JUDGE FOR ADJUDICATION OF THE CONTROVERSY, AND THE AWARD GRANTED BY THE JUDGE IS GREATER THAN THE AMOUNT PAID OR OFFERED BY THE INSURER.
(B) A WRITTEN OFFER OF PAYMENT MADE 60 DAYS OR MORE BEFORE THE DATE OF HEARING MUST BE CONSIDERED A VALID OFFER OF PAYMENT FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION."
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Latest Version of SB 303 (SB0303.02)
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