SEC. 43-13-116. Authority to determine medical assistance eligibility; agreements with state and federal agencies; administrative hearings; authority to hire employees.
(1) It shall be the duty of the Division of Medicaid to fully implement and carry out the administrative functions of determining the eligibility of those persons who qualify for medical assistance under Section 43-13-115.
(2) In determining Medicaid eligibility, the Division of Medicaid is authorized to enter into an agreement with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services for the purpose of securing the transfer of eligibility information from the Social Security Administration on those individuals receiving supplemental security income benefits under the federal Social Security Act and any other information necessary in determining Medicaid eligibility. The Division of Medicaid is further empowered to enter into contractual arrangements with its fiscal agent or with the State Department of Human Services in securing electronic data processing support as may be necessary.
(3) Administrative hearings shall be available to any applicant who requests it because his or her claim of eligibility for services is denied or is not acted upon with reasonable promptness or by any recipient who requests it because he or she believes the agency has erroneously taken action to deny, reduce, or terminate benefits. The agency need not grant a hearing if the sole issue is a federal or state law requiring an automatic change adversely affecting some or all recipients. Eligibility determinations that are made by other agencies and certified to the Division of Medicaid pursuant to Section 43-13-115 are not subject to the administrative hearing procedures of the Division of Medicaid but are subject to the administrative hearing procedures of the agency that determined eligibility.
(a) A request may be made either for a local regional office hearing or a state office hearing when the local regional office has made the initial decision that the claimant seeks to appeal or when the regional office has not acted with reasonable promptness in making a decision on a claim for eligibility or services. The only exception to requesting a local hearing is when the issue under appeal involves either (i) a disability or blindness denial, or termination, or (ii) a level of care denial or termination for a disabled child living at home. An appeal involving disability, blindness or level of care must be handled as a state level hearing. The decision from the local hearing may be appealed to the state office for a state hearing. A decision to deny, reduce or terminate benefits that is initially made at the state office may be appealed by requesting a state hearing.
(b) A request for a hearing, either state or local, must be made in writing by the claimant or claimant's legal representative. "Legal representative" includes the claimant's authorized representative, an attorney retained by the claimant or claimant's family to represent the claimant, a paralegal representative with a legal aid services, a parent of a minor child if the claimant is a child, a legal guardian or conservator or an individual with power of attorney for the claimant. The claimant may also be represented by anyone that he or she so designates but must give the designation to the Medicaid regional office or state office in writing, if the person is not the legal representative, legal guardian, or authorized representative.
(c) The claimant may make a request for a hearing in person at the regional office but an oral request must be put into written form. Regional office staff will determine from the claimant if a local or state hearing is requested and assist the claimant in completing and signing the appropriate form. Regional office staff may forward a state hearing request to the appropriate division in the state office or the claimant may mail the form to the address listed on the form. The claimant may make a written request for a hearing by letter. A simple statement requesting a hearing that is signed by the claimant or legal representative is sufficient; however, if possible, the claimant should state the reason for the request. The letter may be mailed to the regional office or it may be mailed to the state office. If the letter does not specify the type of hearing desired, local or state, Medicaid staff will attempt to contact the claimant to determine the level of hearing desired. If contact cannot be made within three (3) days of receipt of the request, the request will be assumed to be for a local hearing and scheduled accordingly. A hearing will not be scheduled until either a letter or the appropriate form is received by the regional or state office.
(d) When both members of a couple wish to appeal an action or inaction by the agency that affects both applications or cases similarly and arose from the same issue, one or both may file the request for hearing, both may present evidence at the hearing, and the agency's decision will be applicable to both. If both file a request for hearing, two (2) hearings will be registered but they will be conducted on the same day and in the same place, either consecutively or jointly, as the couple wishes. If they so desire, only one of the couple need attend the hearing.
(e) The procedure for administrative hearings shall be as follows:
(i) The claimant has thirty (30) days from the date the agency mails the appropriate notice to the claimant of its decision regarding eligibility, services, or benefits to request either a state or local hearing. This time period may be extended if the claimant can show good cause for not filing within thirty (30) days. Good cause includes, but may not be limited to, illness, failure to receive the notice, being out of state, or some other reasonable explanation. If good cause can be shown, a late request may be accepted provided the facts in the case remain the same. If a claimant's circumstances have changed or if good cause for filing a request beyond thirty (30) days is not shown, a hearing request will not be accepted. If the claimant wishes to have eligibility reconsidered, he or she may reapply.
(ii) If a claimant or representative requests a hearing in writing during the advance notice period before benefits are reduced or terminated, benefits must be continued or reinstated to the benefit level in effect before the effective date of the adverse action. Benefits will continue at the original level until the final hearing decision is rendered. Any hearing requested after the advance notice period will not be accepted as a timely request in order for continuation of benefits to apply.
(iii) Upon receipt of a written request for a hearing, the request will be acknowledged in writing within twenty (20) days and a hearing scheduled. The claimant or representative will be given at least five (5) days' advance notice of the hearing date. The local and/or state level hearings will be held by telephone unless, at the hearing officer's discretion, it is determined that an in-person hearing is necessary. If a local hearing is requested, the regional office will notify the claimant or representative in writing of the time of the local hearing. If a state hearing is requested, the state office will notify the claimant or representative in writing of the time of the state hearing. If an in-person hearing is necessary, local hearings will be held at the regional office and state hearings will be held at the state office unless other arrangements are necessitated by the claimant's inability to travel.
(iv) All persons attending a hearing will attend for the purpose of giving information on behalf of the claimant or rendering the claimant assistance in some other way, or for the purpose of representing the Division of Medicaid.
(v) A state or local hearing request may be withdrawn at any time before the scheduled hearing, or after the hearing is held but before a decision is rendered. The withdrawal must be in writing and signed by the claimant or representative. A hearing request will be considered abandoned if the claimant or representative fails to appear at a scheduled hearing without good cause. If no one appears for a hearing, the appropriate office will notify the claimant in writing that the hearing is dismissed unless good cause is shown for not attending. The proposed agency action will be taken on the case following failure to appear for a hearing if the action has not already been effected.
(vi) The claimant or his representative has the following rights in connection with a local or state hearing:
(A) The right to examine at a reasonable time before the date of the hearing and during the hearing the content of the claimant's case record;
(B) The right to have legal representation at the hearing and to bring witnesses;
(C) The right to produce documentary evidence and establish all facts and circumstances concerning eligibility, services, or benefits;
(D) The right to present an argument without undue interference;
(E) The right to question or refute any testimony or evidence including an opportunity to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses.
(vii) When a request for a local hearing is received by the regional office or if the regional office is notified by the state office that a local hearing has been requested, the Medicaid specialist supervisor in the regional office will review the case record, reexamine the action taken on the case, and determine if policy and procedures have been followed. If any adjustments or corrections should be made, the Medicaid specialist supervisor will ensure that corrective action is taken. If the request for hearing was timely made such that continuation of benefits applies, the Medicaid specialist supervisor will ensure that benefits continue at the level before the proposed adverse action that is the subject of the appeal. The Medicaid specialist supervisor will also ensure that all needed information, verification, and evidence is in the case record for the hearing.
(viii) When a state hearing is requested that appeals the action or inaction of a regional office, the regional office will prepare copies of the case record and forward it to the appropriate division in the state office no later than five (5) days after receipt of the request for a state hearing. The original case record will remain in the regional office. Either the original case record in the regional office or the copy forwarded to the state office will be available for inspection by the claimant or claimant's representative a reasonable time before the date of the hearing.
(ix) The Medicaid specialist supervisor will serve as the hearing officer for a local hearing unless the Medicaid specialist supervisor actually participated in the eligibility, benefits, or services decision under appeal, in which case the Medicaid specialist supervisor must appoint a Medicaid specialist in the regional office who did not actually participate in the decision under appeal to serve as hearing officer. The local hearing will be an informal proceeding in which the claimant or representative may present new or additional information, may question the action taken on the client's case, and will hear an explanation from agency staff as to the regulations and requirements that were applied to claimant's case in making the decision.
(x) After the hearing, the hearing officer will prepare a written summary of the hearing procedure and file it with the case record. The hearing officer will consider the facts presented at the local hearing in reaching a decision. The claimant will be notified of the local hearing decision on the appropriate form that will state clearly the reason for the decision, the policy that governs the decision, the claimant's right to appeal the decision to the state office, and, if the original adverse action is upheld, the new effective date of the reduction or termination of benefits or services if continuation of benefits applied during the hearing process. The new effective date of the reduction or termination of benefits or services must be at the end of the fifteen-day advance notice period from the mailing date of the notice of hearing decision. The notice to claimant will be made part of the case record.
(xi) The claimant has the right to appeal a local hearing decision by requesting a state hearing in writing within fifteen (15) days of the mailing date of the notice of local hearing decision. The state hearing request should be made to the regional office. If benefits have been continued pending the local hearing process, then benefits will continue throughout the fifteen-day advance notice period for an adverse local hearing decision. If a state hearing is timely requested within the fifteen-day period, then benefits will continue pending the state hearing process. State hearings requested after the fifteen-day local hearing advance notice period will not be accepted unless the initial thirty-day period for filing a hearing request has not expired because the local hearing was held early, in which case a state hearing request will be accepted as timely within the number of days remaining of the unexpired initial thirty-day period in addition to the fifteen-day time period. Continuation of benefits during the state hearing process, however, will only apply if the state hearing request is received within the fifteen-day advance notice period.
(xii) When a request for a state hearing is received in the regional office, the request will be made part of the case record and the regional office will prepare the case record and forward it to the appropriate division in the state office within five (5) days of receipt of the state hearing request. A request for a state hearing received in the state office will be forwarded to the regional office for inclusion in the case record and the regional office will prepare the case record and forward it to the appropriate division in the state office within five (5) days of receipt of the state hearing request.
(xiii) Upon receipt of the hearing record, an impartial hearing officer will be assigned to hear the case either by the Executive Director of the Division of Medicaid or his or her designee. Hearing officers will be individuals with appropriate expertise employed by the division and who have not been involved in any way with the action or decision on appeal in the case. The hearing officer will review the case record and if the review shows that an error was made in the action of the agency or in the interpretation of policy, or that a change of policy has been made, the hearing officer will discuss these matters with the appropriate agency personnel and request that an appropriate adjustment be made. Appropriate agency personnel will discuss the matter with the claimant and if the claimant is agreeable to the adjustment of the claim, then agency personnel will request in writing dismissal of the hearing and the reason therefor, to be placed in the case record. If the hearing is to go forward, it shall be scheduled by the hearing officer in the manner set forth in subparagraph (iii) of this paragraph (e).
(xiv) In conducting the hearing, the state hearing officer will inform those present of the following:
(A) That the hearing will be recorded on tape and that a transcript of the proceedings will be typed for the record;
(B) The action taken by the agency which prompted the appeal;
(C) An explanation of the claimant's rights during the hearing as outlined in subparagraph (vi) of this paragraph (e);
(D) That the purpose of the hearing is for the claimant to express dissatisfaction and present additional information or evidence;
(E) That the case record is available for review by the claimant or representative during the hearing;
(F) That the final hearing decision will be rendered by the Executive Director of the Division of Medicaid on the basis of facts presented at the hearing and the case record and that the claimant will be notified by letter of the final decision.
(xv) During the hearing, the claimant and/or representative will be allowed an opportunity to make a full statement concerning the appeal and will be assisted, if necessary, in disclosing all information on which the claim is based. All persons representing the claimant and those representing the Division of Medicaid will have the opportunity to state all facts pertinent to the appeal. The hearing officer may recess or continue the hearing for a reasonable time should additional information or facts be required or if some change in the claimant's circumstances occurs during the hearing process which impacts the appeal. When all information has been presented, the hearing officer will close the hearing and stop the recorder.
(xvi) Immediately following the hearing the hearing tape will be transcribed and a copy of the transcription forwarded to the regional office for filing in the case record. As soon as possible, the hearing officer shall review the evidence and record of the proceedings, testimony, exhibits, and other supporting documents, prepare a written summary of the facts as the hearing officer finds them, and prepare a written recommendation of action to be taken by the agency, citing appropriate policy and regulations that govern the recommendation. The decision cannot be based on any material, oral or written, not available to the claimant before or during the hearing. The hearing officer's recommendation will become part of the case record which will be submitted to the Executive Director of the Division of Medicaid for further review and decision.
(xvii) The Executive Director of the Division of Medicaid, upon review of the recommendation, proceedings and the record, may sustain the recommendation of the hearing officer, reject the same, or remand the matter to the hearing officer to take additional testimony and evidence, in which case, the hearing officer thereafter shall submit to the executive director a new recommendation. The executive director shall prepare a written decision summarizing the facts and identifying policies and regulations that support the decision, which shall be mailed to the claimant and the representative, with a copy to the regional office if appropriate, as soon as possible after submission of a recommendation by the hearing officer. The decision notice will specify any action to be taken by the agency, specify any revised eligibility dates or, if continuation of benefits applies, will notify the claimant of the new effective date of reduction or termination of benefits or services, which will be fifteen (15) days from the mailing date of the notice of decision. The decision rendered by the Executive Director of the Division of Medicaid is final and binding. The claimant is entitled to seek judicial review in a court of proper jurisdiction.
(xviii) The Division of Medicaid must take final administrative action on a hearing, whether state or local, within ninety (90) days from the date of the initial request for a hearing.
(xix) A group hearing may be held for a number of claimants under the following circumstances:
(A) The Division of Medicaid may consolidate the cases and conduct a single group hearing when the only issue involved is one (1) of a single law or agency policy;
(B) The claimants may request a group hearing when there is one (1) issue of agency policy common to all of them.
In all group hearings, whether initiated by the Division of Medicaid or by the claimants, the policies governing fair hearings must be followed. Each claimant in a group hearing must be permitted to present his or her own case and be represented by his or her own representative, or to withdraw from the group hearing and have his or her appeal heard individually. As in individual hearings, the hearing will be conducted only on the issue being appealed, and each claimant will be expected to keep individual testimony within a reasonable time frame as a matter of consideration to the other claimants involved.
(xx) Any specific matter necessitating an administrative hearing not otherwise provided under this article or agency policy shall be afforded under the hearing procedures as outlined above. If the specific time frames of such a unique matter relating to requesting, granting, and concluding of the hearing is contrary to the time frames as set out in the hearing procedures above, the specific time frames will govern over the time frames as set out within these procedures.
(4) The Executive Director of the Division of Medicaid, with the approval of the Governor, shall be authorized to employ eligibility, technical, clerical and supportive staff as may be required in carrying out and fully implementing the determination of Medicaid eligibility, including conducting quality control reviews and the investigation of the improper receipt of medical assistance. Staffing needs will be set forth in the annual appropriation act for the division. Additional office space as needed in performing eligibility, quality control and investigative functions shall be obtained by the division.
SOURCES: Laws, 1980, ch 508, § 2; Laws,
1981, ch. 353, § 1; Laws, 1984, ch. 488, § 47; Laws, 1993, ch.
609, § 2; Laws, 2000, ch. 301, § 7, eff from and after July 1,