U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Oct 20, 2019

§ 438.68 - Network adequacy standards.

(a) General rule. A State that contracts with an MCO, PIHP or PAHP to deliver Medicaid services must develop and enforce network adequacy standards consistent with this section.

(b) Provider-specific network adequacy standards. (1) At a minimum, a State must develop time and distance standards for the following provider types, if covered under the contract:

(i) Primary care, adult and pediatric.

(ii) OB/GYN.

(iii) Behavioral health (mental health and substance use disorder), adult and pediatric.

(iv) Specialist, adult and pediatric.

(v) Hospital.

(vi) Pharmacy.

(vii) Pediatric dental.

(viii) Additional provider types when it promotes the objectives of the Medicaid program, as determined by CMS, for the provider type to be subject to time and distance access standards.

(2) LTSS. States with MCO, PIHP or PAHP contracts which cover LTSS must develop:

(i) Time and distance standards for LTSS provider types in which an enrollee must travel to the provider to receive services; and

(ii) Network adequacy standards other than time and distance standards for LTSS provider types that travel to the enrollee to deliver services.

(3) Scope of network adequacy standards. Network standards established in accordance with paragraphs (b)(1) and (2) of this section must include all geographic areas covered by the managed care program or, if applicable, the contract between the State and the MCO, PIHP or PAHP. States are permitted to have varying standards for the same provider type based on geographic areas.

(c) Development of network adequacy standards. (1) States developing network adequacy standards consistent with paragraph (b)(1) of this section must consider, at a minimum, the following elements:

(i) The anticipated Medicaid enrollment.

(ii) The expected utilization of services.

(iii) The characteristics and health care needs of specific Medicaid populations covered in the MCO, PIHP, and PAHP contract.

(iv) The numbers and types (in terms of training, experience, and specialization) of network providers required to furnish the contracted Medicaid services.

(v) The numbers of network providers who are not accepting new Medicaid patients.

(vi) The geographic location of network providers and Medicaid enrollees, considering distance, travel time, the means of transportation ordinarily used by Medicaid enrollees.

(vii) The ability of network providers to communicate with limited English proficient enrollees in their preferred language.

(viii) The ability of network providers to ensure physical access, reasonable accommodations, culturally competent communications, and accessible equipment for Medicaid enrollees with physical or mental disabilities.

(ix) The availability of triage lines or screening systems, as well as the use of telemedicine, e-visits, and/or other evolving and innovative technological solutions.

(2) States developing standards consistent with paragraph (b)(2) of this section must consider the following:

(i) All elements in paragraphs (c)(1)(i) through (ix) of this section.

(ii) Elements that would support an enrollee's choice of provider.

(iii) Strategies that would ensure the health and welfare of the enrollee and support community integration of the enrollee.

(iv) Other considerations that are in the best interest of the enrollees that need LTSS.

(d) Exceptions process. (1) To the extent the State permits an exception to any of the provider-specific network standards developed under this section, the standard by which the exception will be evaluated and approved must be:

(i) Specified in the MCO, PIHP or PAHP contract.

(ii) Based, at a minimum, on the number of providers in that specialty practicing in the MCO, PIHP, or PAHP service area.

(2) States that grant an exception in accordance with paragraph (d)(1) of this section to a MCO, PIHP or PAHP must monitor enrollee access to that provider type on an ongoing basis and include the findings to CMS in the managed care program assessment report required under § 438.66.

(e) Publication of network adequacy standards. States must publish the standards developed in accordance with paragraphs (b)(1) and (2) of this section on the Web site required by § 438.10. Upon request, network adequacy standards must also be made available at no cost to enrollees with disabilities in alternate formats or through the provision of auxiliary aids and services.