Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

176.136 Medical fee review.

Subdivision 1. Schedule. (a) The commissioner shall by rule establish procedures for determining whether or not the charge for a health service is excessive. In order to accomplish this purpose, the commissioner shall consult with insurers, associations and organizations representing the medical and other providers of treatment services and other appropriate groups.

(b) The procedures established by the commissioner must limit, in accordance with subdivisions 1a, 1b, and 1c, the charges allowable for medical, chiropractic, podiatric, surgical, hospital and other health care provider treatment or services, as defined and compensable under section 176.135. The procedures established by the commissioner for determining whether or not the charge for a health service is excessive must be structured to encourage providers to develop and deliver services for rehabilitation of injured workers. The procedures must incorporate the provisions of sections 144.701, 144.702, and 144.703 to the extent that the commissioner finds that these provisions effectively accomplish the intent of this section or are otherwise necessary to ensure that quality hospital care is available to injured employees.

Subd. 1a. Relative value fee schedule. (a) The liability of an employer for services included in the medical fee schedule is limited to the maximum fee allowed by the schedule in effect on the date of the medical service, or the provider's actual fee, whichever is lower. The medical fee schedule effective on October 1, 1991, remains in effect until the commissioner adopts a new schedule by permanent rule. The commissioner shall adopt permanent rules regulating fees allowable for medical, chiropractic, podiatric, surgical, and other health care provider treatment or service, including those provided to hospital outpatients, by implementing a relative value fee schedule to be effective on October 1, 1993. The commissioner may adopt by reference the relative value fee schedule adopted for the federal Medicare program or a relative value fee schedule adopted by other federal or state agencies. The relative value fee schedule must contain reasonable classifications including, but not limited to, classifications that differentiate among health care provider disciplines. The conversion factors for the original relative value fee schedule must reasonably reflect a 15 percent overall reduction from the medical fee schedule most recently in effect. The reduction need not be applied equally to all treatment or services, but must represent a gross 15 percent reduction.

(b) Effective October 1, 2005, the commissioner shall remove all scaling factors from the relative value units and establish four separate conversion factors according to paragraphs (c) and (d) for each of the following parts of Minnesota Rules:

(1) Medical/surgical services in Minnesota Rules, part 5221.4030, as defined in part 5221.0700, subpart 3, item C, subitem (2);

(2) Pathology and laboratory services in Minnesota Rules, part 5221.4040, as defined in part 5221.0700, subpart 3, item C, subitem (3);

(3) Physical medicine and rehabilitation services in Minnesota Rules, part 5221.4050, as defined in part 5221.0700, subpart 3, item C, subitem (4); and

(4) Chiropractic services in Minnesota Rules, part 5221.4060, as defined in part 5221.0700, subpart 3, item C, subitem (5).

(c) The four conversion factors established under paragraph (b) shall be calculated so that there is no change in each maximum fee for each service under the current fee schedule, except as provided in paragraphs (d) and (e).

(d) By October 1, 2006, the conversion factor for chiropractic services described in paragraph (b), clause (4), shall be increased to equal 72 percent of the conversion factor for medical/surgical services described in paragraph (b), clause (1). Beginning October 1, 2005, the increase in chiropractic conversion factor shall be phased in over two years by approximately equal percentage point increases.

(e) When adjusting the conversion factors in accordance with paragraph (g) on October 1, 2005, and October 1, 2006, the commissioner may adjust by no less than zero, all of the conversion factors as necessary to offset any overall increase in payments under the fee schedule resulting from the increase in the chiropractic conversion factor.

(f) The commissioner shall give notice of the relative value units and conversion factors established under paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) according to the procedures in section 14.386, paragraph (a). The relative value units and conversion factors established under paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) are not subject to expiration under section 14.386, paragraph (b).

(g) After permanent rules have been adopted to implement this section, the conversion factors must be adjusted annually on October 1 by no more than the percentage change computed under section 176.645, but without the annual cap provided by that section. The commissioner shall annually give notice in the State Register of the adjusted conversion factors and may also give annual notice of any additions, deletions, or changes to the relative value units or service codes adopted by the federal Medicare program. The relative value units may be statistically adjusted in the same manner as for the original workers' compensation relative value fee schedule. The notices of the adjusted conversion factors and additions, deletions, or changes to the relative value units and service codes is in lieu of the requirements of chapter 14. The commissioner shall follow the requirements of section 14.386, paragraph (a). The annual adjustments to the conversion factors and the medical fee schedules adopted under this section, including all previous fee schedules, are not subject to expiration under section 14.386, paragraph (b).

Subd. 1b. Limitation of liability. (a) The liability of the employer for treatment, articles, and supplies provided to an employee while an inpatient or outpatient at a small hospital shall be the hospital's usual and customary charge, unless the charge is determined by the commissioner or a compensation judge to be unreasonably excessive. A "small hospital," for purposes of this paragraph, is a hospital which has 100 or fewer licensed beds.

(b) The liability of the employer for the treatment, articles, and supplies that are not limited by subdivision 1a or 1c or paragraph (a) shall be limited to 85 percent of the provider's usual and customary charge, or 85 percent of the prevailing charges for similar treatment, articles, and supplies furnished to an injured person when paid for by the injured person, whichever is lower. On this basis, the commissioner or compensation judge may determine the reasonable value of all treatment, services, and supplies, and the liability of the employer is limited to that amount. The commissioner may by rule establish the reasonable value of a service, article, or supply in lieu of the 85 percent limitation in this paragraph.

(c) The limitation of liability for charges provided by paragraph (b) does not apply to a nursing home that participates in the medical assistance program and whose rates are established by the commissioner of human services.

Subd. 1c. Charges for independent medical examinations. The commissioner shall adopt rules that reasonably limit amounts which may be charged for, or in connection with, independent or adverse medical examinations requested by any party, including the amount that may be charged for depositions, witness fees, or other expenses. No party may pay fees above the amount in the schedule.

Subd. 2. Excessive fees. If the employer or insurer determines that the charge for a health service or medical service is excessive, no payment in excess of the reasonable charge for that service shall be made under this chapter nor may the provider collect or attempt to collect from the injured employee or any other insurer or government amounts in excess of the amount payable under this chapter unless the commissioner, compensation judge, or court of appeals determines otherwise. In such a case, the health care provider may initiate an action under this chapter for recovery of the amounts deemed excessive by the employer or insurer.

A charge for a health service or medical service is excessive if it:

(1) exceeds the maximum permissible charge pursuant to subdivision 1, 1a, 1b, or 1c;

(2) is for a service provided at a level, duration, or frequency that is excessive, based upon accepted medical standards for quality health care and accepted rehabilitation standards;

(3) is for a service that is outside the scope of practice of the particular provider or is not generally recognized within the particular profession of the provider as of therapeutic value for the specific injury or condition treated; or

(4) is otherwise deemed excessive or inappropriate pursuant to rules adopted pursuant to this chapter.

Subd. 3. Report. The commissioner shall contract with a review organization as defined in section 145.61 for the purposes listed in section 145.61, subdivision 5, and report to the legislature on January 15 of every odd-numbered year, regarding the delivery of medical and health care services, including rehabilitation services, under the workers' compensation laws of this state.

The commissioner shall also conduct a study of the qualifications and background of rehabilitation consultants and vendors providing services under section 176.102 for the purpose of determining whether there are adequate professional standards provided, including safeguards to protect against conflicts of interest.

Subd. 4. Repealed, 1987 c 332 s 117

Subd. 5. Repealed, 1992 c 510 art 4 s 26

HIST: Ex1979 c 3 s 45; 1981 c 346 s 87; 1982 c 424 s 130; 1983 c 289 s 114 subd 1; 1983 c 290 s 108; 1984 c 432 art 2 s 25; 1984 c 640 s 32; 1984 c 655 art 1 s 92; 1985 c 234 s 11; 1987 c 332 s 39; 1989 c 282 art 2 s 51,52; 1992 c 510 art 4 s 14-18; 1993 c 194 s 6; 1995 c 231 art 2 s 64-66; 1996 c 374 s 4; 1997 c 187 art 5 s 26; 1Sp2005 c 1 art 4 s 40