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e-CFR data is current as of April 21, 2021

Title 38Chapter IPart 17 → §17.4135


Title 38: Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans' Relief
PART 17—MEDICAL


§17.4135   Disputes.

(a) General. (1) This section establishes the administrative procedures and requirements for asserting and resolving disputes arising under or related to a Veterans Care Agreement. For purposes of this section, a dispute means a disagreement, between VA and the entity or provider that entered into the subject Veterans Care Agreement with VA, that meets the following criteria:

(i) Pertains to one of the subject matters set forth in paragraph (b) of this section;

(ii) Is not resolved informally by mutual agreement of the parties; and

(iii) Culminates in one of the parties demanding or asserting, as a matter of right, the payment of money in a sum certain under the Veterans Care Agreement, the interpretation of the terms of the Veterans Care Agreement or a specific authorization thereunder, or other relief arising under or relating to the Veterans Care Agreement. However, a dispute does not encompass any demand or assertion, as a matter of right, for penalties or forfeitures prescribed by a statute or regulation that another federal agency is specifically authorized to administer, settle, or determine.

(2) The procedures established in this section should only be used when the parties to a Veterans Care Agreement have failed to resolve an issue in controversy by mutual agreement.

(3) The procedures established in this section constitute an entity's or provider's exclusive administrative remedy for disputes under this section.

(4) Disputes under this section are not considered claims for the purposes of laws that would otherwise require the application of sections 7101 through 7109 of title 41 U.S.C.

(5) An entity or provider must first exhaust the procedures established in this section before seeking judicial review under section 1346 of title 28 U.S.C.

(b) Subject matter of disputes. Disputes under this section must pertain to:

(1) The scope of one or more specific authorizations under the applicable Veterans Care Agreement; or

(2) Claims for payment under the applicable Veterans Care Agreement.

(c) Procedures—(1) Initiation of dispute. Disputes under this section must be initiated in accordance with the following procedures and requirements:

(i) Disputes must be initiated by submitting a notice of dispute, in writing, to the designated VA official to which notice must be submitted under the terms of the Veterans Care Agreement. The notice of dispute must comply with, and be submitted in accordance with, applicable terms of the Veterans Care Agreement.

(ii) The notice of dispute must contain all specific assertions or demands, all facts pertinent to the dispute, any specific resolutions or relief sought, and all information and documentation necessary to review and adjudicate the dispute.

(iii) The notice of dispute must be received by the designated VA official to which such notice must be submitted, in accordance with the terms of the Veterans Care Agreement, within 90 calendar days after the accrual of the dispute. For purposes of this paragraph, the accrual of the dispute is the date when all events, that fix the alleged liability of either VA or the entity or provider and permit the applicable demand(s) and assertion(s), were known or should have been known. The term “accrual of the dispute,” as defined, has the following meanings in each of the two specific circumstances that follow:

(A) When a dispute consists of an entity or provider asserting that VA has made payment in an incorrect amount, under circumstances where VA has issued a corresponding payment notice and the entity or provider has received such notice, the accrual of the dispute is the date such notice was received by the entity or provider.

(B) When a dispute consists of an entity or provider asserting that VA has improperly denied payment to which it is entitled, under circumstances where VA has issued a corresponding denial of payment notice and the entity or provider has received such notice, the accrual of the dispute is the date such notice was received by the entity or provider.

(2) VA authority to decide and resolve disputes arising under or relating to Veterans Care Agreements. (i) A VA official acting within the scope of authority delegated by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (hereafter referred to in this section as the “responsible VA official”) will decide and resolve disputes under this section.

(ii) The authority to decide or resolve disputes under this section does not extend to the settlement, compromise, payment, or adjustment of any claim for payment that involves fraud or misrepresentation of fact. For purposes of this paragraph, “misrepresentation of fact” means a false statement of substantive fact, or any conduct which leads to the belief of a substantive fact material to proper understanding of the matter in hand, made with intent to deceive or mislead. If the responsible VA official encounters evidence of misrepresentation of fact or fraud on the part of the entity or provider, the responsible VA official shall refer the matter to the agency official responsible for investigating fraud and may refer the matter to other federal entities as necessary.

(3) Review of dispute and written decision. (i) Upon receipt of a notice of dispute, the responsible VA official will review the dispute and all facts pertinent to the dispute.

(ii) If the responsible VA official determines additional information or documentation is required for review and adjudication of the dispute, the official will, within 90 calendar days of VA's receipt of the notice of dispute, provide written notice to both parties, in accordance with the notice provisions of the Veterans Care Agreement, that additional information or documentation is required for review and adjudication of the dispute. Such notice will identify and request the additional information and documentation deemed necessary to review and adjudicate the dispute.

(iii) Upon VA receipt of a notice of dispute that conforms to the requirements of paragraph (c)(1) of this section (including containing all information and documentation necessary to review and adjudicate the dispute), the responsible VA official will take one of the following actions within 90 calendar days:

(A) Issue a written decision, in accordance with the notice provisions of the Veterans Care Agreement, to both parties. The written decision will include:

(1) A description of the dispute;

(2) A reference to the pertinent terms of the Veterans Care Agreement and any relevant authorizations;

(3) A statement of the factual areas of agreement and disagreement;

(4) A statement of the responsible official's decision, with supporting rationale; and

(5) A statement that the decision constitutes the final agency decision on the matter in dispute.

(B) Upon a determination that additional time is reasonably required to issue a decision, the responsible VA official will provide written notice to both parties, in accordance with the notice provisions of the Veterans Care Agreement, of such determination and the time within which a decision will be issued. The time within which a decision will be issued must be reasonable, taking into account the complexity of the dispute and any other relevant factors, and must not exceed 150 calendar days after receipt of a notice of dispute that conforms to the requirements of paragraph (c)(1) of this section and all information and documentation necessary to review and adjudicate the dispute. The responsible VA official will subsequently issue a written decision in accordance with paragraph (c)(3)(iii)(A) of this section.

(4) Issuance of decision. VA will furnish the decision to the entity or provider by any method that provides evidence of receipt.

(5) Effect of decision. A written decision issued by the responsible VA official constitutes the agency's final decision on the dispute.

(The information collection requirements have been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and are pending OMB approval.)

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