(a) General rule. Each MA organization must provide meaningful procedures for timely hearing and resolving grievances between enrollees and the organization or any other entity or individual through which the organization provides health care services under any MA plan it offers.
(b) Distinguished from appeals. Grievance procedures are separate and distinct from appeal procedures, which address organization determinations as defined in § 422.566(b). Upon receiving a complaint, an MA organization must promptly determine and inform the enrollee whether the complaint is subject to its grievance procedures or its appeal procedures.
(c) Distinguished from the quality improvement organization (QIO) complaint process. Under section 1154(a)(14) of the Act, the QIO must review beneficiaries' written complaints about the quality of services they have received under the Medicare program. This process is separate and distinct from the grievance procedures of the MA organization. For quality of care issues, an enrollee may file a grievance with the MA organization; file a written complaint with the QIO, or both. For any complaint submitted to a QIO, the MA organization must cooperate with the QIO in resolving the complaint.
(d) Method for filing a grievance.
(1) An enrollee may file a grievance with the MA organization either orally or in writing.
(2) An enrollee must file a grievance no later than 60 days after the event or incident that precipitates the grievance.
(e) Grievance disposition and notification.
(1) The MA organization must notify the enrollee of its decision as expeditiously as the case requires, based on the enrollee's health status, but no later than 30 days after the date the organization receives the oral or written grievance.
(2) The MA organization may extend the 30-day timeframe by up to 14 days if the enrollee requests the extension or if the organization justifies a need for additional information and documents how the delay is in the interest of the enrollee. When the MA organization extends the deadline, it must immediately notify the enrollee in writing of the reasons for the delay.
(3) The MA organization must inform the enrollee of the disposition of the grievance in accordance with the following procedures:
(i) All grievances submitted in writing must be responded to in writing.
(ii) Grievances submitted orally may be responded to either orally or in writing, unless the enrollee requests a written response.
(iii) All grievances related to quality of care, regardless of how the grievance is filed, must be responded to in writing. The response must include a description of the enrollee's right to file a written complaint with the QIO. For any complaint submitted to a QIO, the MA organization must cooperate with the QIO in resolving the complaint.
(f) Expedited grievances. An MA organization must respond to an enrollee's grievance within 24 hours if:
(1) The complaint involves an MA organization's decision to invoke an extension relating to an organization determination or reconsideration.
(g) Recordkeeping. The MA organization must have an established process to track and maintain records on all grievances received both orally and in writing, including, at a minimum, the date of receipt, final disposition of the grievance, and the date that the MA organization notified the enrollee of the disposition.