Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Commonwealth Court Rules Claimant May Not Seek Review of the Determination of a URO That the Provider Did Not Properly Submit Records

In L. Sexton v. WCAB (Forest Park Health Center) the Employer filed a request for utilization review. The Provider forwarded treatment records in a timely manner, but did not complete a verification. The URO sent the records back to the Provider. They were not returned. The URO found the treatment unreasonable and unnecessary under 34 Pa. Code Section 127.464(a).

The Claimant was entitled to file a Petition to Review Utilization Review Determination to seek review of the URO's determination. Under HCR Manorcare v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd. (Bollman), 951 A.2d 1242 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008) and Gazzola v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd. (Ikon Office Solutions), 911 A.2d 662 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006) the WCJ can vacate the determination and order that the records be sent to a reviewer for a URO determination on the merits.

Although the WCJ did this after hearing evidence the provider did execute the authorization, the Board reversed the WCJ's determination and the Court affirmed. The Court held the URO complied with 34 Pa. Code section 127.464(b) which provides: Before rendering the determination against the provider, a URO shall do the following: (1) Determine whether the records were mailed in a timely manner. (2) Indicate on the determination that the records were requested but not provided. (3) Adequately document the attempt to obtain records from the provider under review, including a copy of the certified mail return receipt from the request for records.

The Court stated the URO had no choice but to deem the treatments unreasonable and unnecessary because the records were not properly submitted due to the lack of the required verification form. The Court also stated where no utilization report is issued, the reasonableness of the bills submitted are final and cannot be appealed to the WCJ, citing County of Allegheny v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Geisler), 875 A.2d 1222 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005).

The majority's decision therefore extinguishes the right of the Claimant to seek review of a URO's
34 Pa. Code section 127.464(b) detemination by filing a Petition to Review Utilization Review Determination.

The majority did not discuss the more recent precedents of HCR Manorcare and Gazzola. Judge Butler authored a dissent stating these precedents were properly applied by the WCJ.

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