38 CFR § 17.55 - Payment for authorized public or private hospital care.
Except as otherwise provided in this section, payment for public or private hospital care authorized under 38 U.S.C. 1703 and 38 CFR 17.52 of this part or under 38 U.S.C. 1728 and 38 CFR 17.120 of this part shall be based on a prospective payment system similar to that used in the Medicare program for paying for similar inpatient hospital services in the community. Payment shall be made using the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) PRICER for each diagnosis-related group (DRG) applicable to the episode of care.
(a) Payment shall be made of the full prospective payment amount per discharge, as determined according to the methodology in subparts D and G of 42 CFR part 412, as appropriate.
(1) In the case of a veteran who was transferred to another facility before completion of care, VA shall pay the transferring hospital an amount calculated by the HCFA PRICER for each patient day of care, not to exceed the full DRG rate as provided in paragraph (a) of this section. The hospital that ultimately discharges the patient will receive the full DRG payment.
(2) In the case of a veteran who has transferred from a hospital and/or distinct part unit excluded by Medicare from the DRG-based prospective payment system or from a hospital that does not participate in Medicare, the transferring hospital will receive a payment for each patient day of care not to exceed the amount provided in paragraph (i) of this section.
(c) VA shall pay the providing facility the full DRG-based rate or reasonable cost, without regard to any copayments or deductible required by any Federal law that is not applicable to VA.
(d) If the cost or length of a veteran's care exceeds an applicable threshold amount, as determined by the HCFA PRICER program, VA shall pay, in addition to the amount payable under paragraph (a) of this section, an outlier payment calculated by the HCFA PRICER program, in accordance with subpart F of 42 CFR part 412.
(e) In addition to the amount payable under paragraph (a) of this section, VA shall pay, for each discharge, an amount to cover the non-Federal hospital's capital-related costs, kidney, heart and liver acquisition costs incurred by hospitals with approved transplantation centers, direct costs of medical education, and the costs of qualified nonphysician anesthetists in small rural hospitals. These amounts will be determined by the Under Secretary for Health on an annual basis and published in the “Notices” section of the Federal Register.
(f) Payment shall be made only for those services authorized by VA.
(g) Payments made in accordance with this section shall constitute payment in full and the provider or agent for the provider may not impose any additional charge on a veteran or his or her health care insurer for any inpatient services for which payment is made by the VA.
(h) Hospitals of distinct part hospital units excluded from the prospective payment system by Medicare and hospitals that do not participate in Medicare will be paid at the national cost-to-charge ratio times the billed charges that are reasonable, usual, customary, and not in excess of rates or fees the hospital charges the general public for similar services in the community.
(i) A hospital participating in an alternative payment system that has been granted a Federal waiver from the prospective payment system under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. section 1395f(b)(3) or 42 U.S.C. section 1395ww(c) for the purposes of Medicare payment shall not be subject to the payment methodology set forth in this section so long as such Federal waiver remains in effect.
(j) Payments for episodes of hospital care furnished in Alaska that begin during the period starting on the effective date of this section through the 364th day thereafter will be in the amount determined by the HCFA PRICER plus 50 percent of the difference between the amount billed by the hospital and the amount determined by the PRICER. Claims for services provided during that period will be accepted for payment by VA under this paragraph (k) until December 31 of the year following the year in which this section became effective.
(k) Notwithstanding other provisions of this section, VA, for public or private hospital care covered by this section, will pay the lesser of the amount determined under paragraphs (a) through (j) of this section or the amount negotiated with the hospital or its agent.