38 CFR § 17.1535 - Payment rates and methodologies.
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, payment rates may not exceed the rates paid by the United States to a provider of services (as defined in section 1861(u) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395x(u)) or a supplier (as defined in section 1861(d) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 1395x(d)) under the Medicare program under title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.) for the same care or services. These rates are known as the “Medicare Fee Schedule” for VA purposes.
(2) For eligible entities or providers in highly rural areas, the Secretary may enter into an agreement that includes a rate greater than the rate defined paragraph (a)(1) of this section for hospital care or medical services, so long as such rate is still determined by VA to be fair and reasonable. The term “highly rural area” means an area located in a county that has fewer than seven individuals residing in that county per square mile.
(4) For eligible entities or providers in a State with an All-Payer Model Agreement under the Social Security Act that became effective on January 1, 2014, payment rates will be calculated based on the payment rates under such agreement.
(5) When there are no available rates as described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, the Secretary shall, to the extent consistent with the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, follow the process and methodology outlined in §§ 17.55 and 17.56 and pay the resulting rate.
(b) Payment responsibilities. Responsibility for payments will be as follows.
(1) For a nonservice-connected disability, as that term is defined at § 3.1(l) of this chapter, a health-care plan of an eligible veteran is primarily responsible, to the extent such care or services is covered by the health-care plan, for paying the eligible entity or provider for such hospital care or medical services as are authorized under §§ 17.1500 through 17.1540 and furnished to an eligible veteran. VA shall be responsible for promptly paying only for costs of the VA-authorized service not covered by such health-care plan, including a payment made by the veteran, except that such payment may not exceed the rate determined for such care or services pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section.
(2) For hospital care or medical services furnished for a service-connected disability, as that term is defined at § 3.1(k) of this chapter, or pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 1710(e), 1720D, or 1720E, VA is solely responsible for paying the eligible entity or provider for such hospital care or medical services as are authorized under §§ 17.1500 through 17.1540 and furnished to an eligible veteran.
(c) Authorized care. VA will only pay for an episode of care for hospital care or medical services authorized by VA. The eligible entity or provider must contact VA to receive authorization prior to providing any hospital care or medical services the eligible non-VA entity or provider believes are necessary that are not identified in the authorization VA submits to the eligible entity or provider. VA will only pay for the hospital care or medical services that are furnished by an eligible entity or provider. There must be an actual encounter with a health care provider, who is either an employee of an entity in an agreement with VA or who is furnishing care through an agreement the health care provider has entered into with VA, and such encounter must occur after an election is made by an eligible veteran.