Escaping the four corners of the denialOctober 15, 2008
At this point in our PIP jurisprudence, it has been taken for granted that a defense of medical necessity extends to the four corners of the peer review or the medical examination which recommends cessation of treatment.
The foundation for the principle appears in 11 NYCRR Sec. 65-3.8(a)(4), which states the following: “If the specific reason for a denial of a no-fault claim, or any element thereof, is a medical examination or peer review report requested by the insurer, the insurer shall release a copy of that report to the applicant for benefits, the applicant’s attorney, or the applicant’s treating physician, upon the written request of any of these parties.”
In construing this regulation, the Appellate Division observed in A.B. Medical Services, PLLC v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. 39 A.D.3d 779 (2d Dept. 2007): “The applicable regulations provide that if a no-fault claim is denied in whole or in part based on a medical examination or peer review report requested by the insurer, then the insurer shall release a copy of that report to, among others, the applicant or its attorney, upon written request. Had it been the intent of the Department of Insurance to require the carrier to set forth a medical rationale in the prescribed denial of claim form, it would have so provided”
Thus, it is has been assumed that the the peer or IME is an extension of the denial. This was the methodology behind the Appellate Term, Second Department’s holding in A.B. Medical Services, PLLC v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. 10 Misc.3d 128(A)(App. Term 2d Dept. 2005), prior to it being reversed by the Appellate Division, Second Department. See, 39 AD3d 779. In fact, all the Appellate Division really said was that the peer report or IME report does not have to be annexed to the denial.
Therefore, recent Appellate Term, First Department cases are quite questionable. In Mollins v Allstate Ins. Co. 20 Misc 3d 141(A)(App. Term 1st Dept. 2008), the Appellate Term, stated the following: “In opposition, defendant failed to raise a triable issue since it did not submit the IME report upon which its denials were based or any other evidentiary proof to support its defense of lack of medical necessity (see Vista Surgical Supplies, Inc. Travelers Ins. Co., 50 AD3d 778 ; Response Med. Equip. v General Assur. Co., 13 Misc 3d 129[A], 2006 NY Slip Op 51765[U] ).
And the Appellate Term case, Response Med. Equipment said the following: “With respect to the $650 claim for assignor Edwin Milanes, defendant failed to support its defense of lack of medical necessity with the peer review upon which the denial was based, or any other competent proof in admissible form.”
It therefore appears arguable that an insurance carrier may escape the four corners of the denial, as amplied by the peer review and denial. It should be interesting to see how the Appellate Term, First Department and the other courts rule when the “Cerucci” four corner rule collides with the “other competent proof in admissible form” rule.