All criteria utilized in utilization management are available upon request. The request can be made independent of a specific case. Reviewers and Medical Directors are also available to discuss any and all utilization management decisions, questions, or issues.

To request specific utilization management criteria or to speak with a MedStar Family Choice Reviewer or Medical Director, please contact us during our normal business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 800-905-1722 or 410-933-2200. The fax number is 410-933-2274. Messages received outside of normal business hours will be addressed the following business day.

Medical pre-authorization 

MedStar Family Choice follows a basic pre-authorization process: A member's physician forwards clinical information and requests for services to MedStar Family Choice by phone, fax, or (infrequently) by mail. 

You may contact a case manager on business days from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 410-933-2200 or 800-905-1722. Our fax number is 410-933-2274 and faxes are received 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. Faxes and voice messages received after hours will be addressed the next business day. The after-hours voice mail message includes the name and telephone number to contact for after-hours needs. The message also contains a telephone number for a MedStar Family Choice representative to be contacted for urgent pharmacy issues.

All appropriate ICD-10/CPT/HCPCS, along with supporting clinical information, must be included in requests for pre-authorization. Requests for authorization can be included on the Maryland Uniform Consultation Referral Form or Prior Authorization (Non-Pharmacy) Request Form with clinical information attached. 

Our experienced clinical staff reviews all requests. MedStar Family Choice pre-authorization decisions are based on the following criteria:

  • MedStar Family Choice protocols

  • MedStar Family Choice pharmacy policies and procedures

  • InterQual

  • Medicare and Medicaid guidelines

  • Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR)

  • MedStar Family Choice Managed Care Organization benefit coverage

  • MedStar Family Choice provider manual

  • MedStar Family Choice member handbook

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval

  • Maryland Medicaid DMS/DME Program approved list of items

  • Availability of services within the MedStar Family Choice network

  • MedStar Family Choice continuity of care policy

  • Pain management contracts

  • Maryland Medicaid medical Laboratory and Professional Services Program Approved List of Items

  • National and international professional medical society guidelines

  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)

  • In the absence of guidelines, use prevailing medical literature from studies and journals

  • Maryland Medicaid Audiology Services Fee Schedule

  • HealthChoice Diabetes Prevention Program Manual

MedStar Family Choice reserves the right to direct services to participating providers and facilities. Services outside the network are available only when they are not available within the network, for continuity reasons.

MedStar Family Choice's utilization management decision-making is based on the medical necessity of the service and the existence of Managed Care Organization enrollment and coverage.

MedStar Family Choice requires up to two business days to process a complete, non-urgent, non-pharmacy authorization request. Requests are considered complete when all necessary clinical information is received from the requesting provider. The final decision cannot take longer than 14 days, whether or not all clinical information has been received. If the service requested is denied, the provider may contact our Clinical Operations Department to discuss the decision with the appropriate Medical Director.

A limited number of services require authorization from MedStar Family Choice Care Management before the patient receives care. The list is included in the MedStar Family Choice Provider Manual.

Retrospective requests are reviewed against the above specified criteria and are not guaranteed for approval. Retrospective services that could have been provided within the network are not likely to be retrospectively approved unless upon review the care was urgent/emergent, a COMAR-defined self-referral service, or a continuity of care issue. MedStar Family Choice has 30 Calendar days from receipt of a Retrospective request to make a decision and notify the requestor.  

DME and services that are carved out to the State of Maryland Medicaid, which include, but are not limited to, pediatric outpatient rehabilitation services and mental health care, are subject to administrative denial since they are not the liability of the Managed Care Organization.

Timeliness for obtaining authorization

MedStar Family Choice is proud to share with our provider community our timeliness in completing and providing authorizations for standard (non-urgent) requests for services.  MedStar Family Choice is held to very strict timelines from the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for making decisions and communicating those decisions on requests for authorization.

Click here to see our compliance rates with these standards. As you can see, we exceed the state's standards.  

Click here for more information about the Timeliness of Utilization Management Decisions.


MedStar Family Choice pays for a wide variety of medications, as outlined in our formulary. If a physician feels it medically necessary to prescribe a medication not on the formulary, the physician may submit this request to MedStar Family Choice. Such a request must include clinical documentation that supports the medical need for that specific medication. 

All non-formulary requests are reviewed by a Medical Director or Health Plan Pharmacist. MedStar Family Choice does not guarantee coverage of medications that are outside the guidelines set forth in the manual. 
Physicians may call MedStar Family Choice at 410-933-2200 or fax requests to 410-933-2274.

Requests for Synagis (palivizumab) require a completed Statement of Medical Necessity form (PDF) and authorization is based on criteria set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement.

Requests for Glecaprevir/Pibrentasvir (Mavyret®) and Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi®) require a completed Hepatitis C Prior Authorization and Prescription form. MedStar Family Choice follows the criteria set forth by the Maryland Department of Health, which follows the guidelines of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

MedStar Family Choice will make a decision and notification on all non-formulary and medications on our Prior Authorization table within 24 hours (1 calendar day) from receipt of request. 

Medications covered by the Maryland Department of Health, such as mental health drugs and some seizure medications, are not covered by the MedStar Family Choice Managed Care Organization. These requests are subject to administrative denial since they are not the liability of the Managed Care Organization. Please review the Maryland Department of Health preferred drug list for the listing of covered medications.

Concurrent review

MedStar Family Choice utilizes the following criteria to make concurrent review decisions:

  • InterQual

  • Medicare and Medicaid guidelines


  • MedStar Family Choice benefit coverage

  • Availability of services within the MedStar Family Choice network

MedStar Family Choice reviews clinical documentation for timeliness of care and appropriate level of care. Clinical denial determinations may be issued by our medical directors when a delay in care or delay in discharge planning creates an inpatient day that could have been avoided if service had been provided in a timely manner.

MedStar Family Choice makes a decision and notifies the requesting hospital within 72 hours (3 calendar days) of receipt of the concurrent review request. In the event, additional clinical information is needed to make a determination, or the hospital was unable to supply the clinical timely, an extension of 14 calendar days may be granted for the hospital to supply the needed clinical. 

While MedStar Family Choice care managers are available to assist with discharge planning, it is the responsibility of the inpatient facility to provide timely and appropriate discharge planning. Inpatient days that do not meet medical necessity as outlined in above criteria are the responsibility of the inpatient facility.

Services that are carved out to the State of Maryland Medicaid, which include but are not limited to mental health care, are subject to administrative denial since they are not the liability of the Managed Care Organization.

MedStar Family Choice follows Maryland Medicaid Fee for Service guidelines when conducting inpatient reviews where a guardianship hearing is necessary to determine post-acute disposition. In the absence of medical necessity, MedStar Family Choice approves the first 2 days following the decision that guardianship is needed.

Emergency care

In accordance with the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA), MedStar Family Choice will pay claims for all medical screening examinations when the request is made for examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition, including active labor. MedStar Family Choice does not consider a nurse exam or triage information as evidence of a medical screening exam.

In accordance with the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, MedStar Family Choice pays for emergency services using a prudent layperson standard. An "emergency medical condition" is defined as:

A medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity, including severe pain, such that a prudent layperson, who possesses an average knowledge of health and medicine, could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in placing the health of the individual (or, with respect to a pregnant woman, or her unborn child) in serious jeopardy, serious impairment to bodily functions, or serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.

MedStar Family Choice requires and fully reviews emergency department clinical documentation for evidence of a medical screening exam, prudent layperson guidelines, as well as evaluation of assigned treatment levels based on HSCRC guidelines for reasonable clinical care time. 

Services that are carved out to the State of Maryland Medicaid, which include but are not limited to mental health care, are subject to administrative denial since they are not the liability of the Managed Care Organization. 

MedStar Family Choice does not specifically reward practitioners or other individuals for issuing denials of coverage of care. In addition, there are no financial incentives for Utilization Management decision-makers that would encourage decisions that result in underutilization. 

Providers may request the Utilization Management criteria utilized for a specific case by calling the MedStar Family Choice Clinical Operations Department at 800-905-1722 or 410-933-2200 option 2. We are available Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Information current as of: