38 CFR § 17.56 - VA payment for inpatient and outpatient health care professional services at non-departmental facilities and other medical charges associated with non-VA outpatient care.

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§ 17.56 VA payment for inpatient and outpatient health care professional services at non-departmental facilities and other medical charges associated with non-VA outpatient care.

(a) Except for health care professional services provided in the state of Alaska (see paragraph (b) of this section), VA will determine the amounts paid under § 17.52 or § 17.120 for health care professional services, and all other medical services associated with non-VA outpatient care, using the applicable method in this section:

(1) If a specific amount has been negotiated with a specific provider, VA will pay that amount.

(2) If an amount has not been negotiated under paragraph (a)(1) of this section, VA will pay the lowest of the following amounts:

(i) The applicable Medicare fee schedule or prospective payment system amount (“Medicare rate”) for the period in which the service was provided (without any changes based on the subsequent development of information under Medicare authorities), subject to the following:

(A) In the event of a Medicare waiver, the payment amount will be calculated in accordance with such waiver.

(B) In the absence of a Medicare rate or Medicare waiver, payment will be the VA Fee Schedule amount for the period in which the service was provided. The VA Fee Schedule amount is determined by the authorizing VA medical facility, which ranks all billings (if the facility has had at least eight billings) from non-VA facilities under the corresponding procedure code during the previous fiscal year, with billings ranked from the highest to the lowest. The VA Fee Schedule amount is the charge falling at the 75th percentile. If the authorizing facility has not had at least eight such billings, then this paragraph does not apply.

(ii) The amount negotiated by a repricing agent if the provider is participating within the repricing agent's network and VA has a contract with that repricing agent. For the purposes of this section, repricing agent means a contractor that seeks to connect VA with discounted rates from non-VA providers as a result of existing contracts that the non-VA provider may have within the commercial health care industry.

(iii) The amount that the provider bills the general public for the same service.

(b) For physician and non-physician professional services rendered in Alaska, VA will pay for services in accordance with a fee schedule that uses the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act mandated national standard coding sets. VA will pay a specific amount for each service for which there is a corresponding code. Under the VA Alaska Fee Schedule, the amount paid in Alaska for each code will be 90 percent of the average amount VA actually paid in Alaska for the same services in Fiscal Year (FY) 2003. For services that VA provided less than eight times in Alaska in FY 2003, for services represented by codes established after FY 2003, and for unit-based codes prior to FY 2004, VA will take the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' rate for each code and multiply it times the average percentage paid by VA in Alaska for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-like codes. VA will increase the amounts on the VA Alaska Fee Schedule annually in accordance with the published national Medicare Economic Index (MEI). For those years where the annual average is a negative percentage, the fee schedule will remain the same as the previous year. Payment for non-VA health care professional services in Alaska shall be the lesser of the amount billed or the amount calculated under this subpart.

(c) Payments made by VA to a non-VA facility or provider under this section shall be considered payment in full. Accordingly, the facility or provider or agent for the facility or provider may not impose any additional charge for any services for which payment is made by VA.

(d) In a case where a veteran has paid for emergency treatment for which VA may reimburse the veteran under § 17.120, VA will reimburse the amount that the veteran actually paid. Any amounts due to the provider but unpaid by the veteran will be reimbursed to the provider under paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section.

(e) Except for payments for care furnished under 38 U.S.C. 1725 and § 17.1005, under 38 U.S.C. 1728 and §§ 17.120 and 17.128, or under 38 U.S.C. 1787 and § 17.410, the provisions of this section shall not apply to care furnished by VA after June 6, 2019, or care furnished pursuant to an agreement authorized by 38 U.S.C. 1703A.

[75 FR 78915, Dec. 17, 2010, as amended at 78 FR 26251, May 6, 2013; 78 FR 68364, Nov. 14, 2013; 79 FR 16200, Mar. 25, 2014; 84 FR 26306, June 5, 2019]