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e-CFR data is current as of February 23, 2021

Title 38Chapter IPart 17 → §17.106

Title 38: Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans' Relief

§17.106   VA collection rules; third-party payers.

(a)(1) General rule. VA has the right to recover or collect reasonable charges from a third-party payer for medical care and services provided for a nonservice-connected disability in or through any VA facility to a veteran who is also a beneficiary under the third-party payer's plan. VA's right to recover or collect is limited to the extent that the beneficiary or a nongovernment provider of care or services would be eligible to receive reimbursement or indemnification from the third-party payer if the beneficiary were to incur the costs on the beneficiary's own behalf.

(2) Definitions. For the purposes of this section:

Automobile liability insurance means insurance against legal liability for health and medical expenses resulting from personal injuries arising from operation of a motor vehicle. Automobile liability insurance includes:

(A) Circumstances in which liability benefits are paid to an injured party only when the insured party's tortious acts are the cause of the injuries; and

(B) Uninsured and underinsured coverage, in which there is a third-party tortfeasor who caused the injuries (i.e., benefits are not paid on a no-fault basis), but the insured party is not the tortfeasor.

Health-plan contract means any plan, policy, program, contract, or liability arrangement that provides compensation, coverage, or indemnification for expenses incurred by a beneficiary for medical care or services, items, products, and supplies. It includes but is not limited to:

(A) Any plan offered by an insurer, reinsurer, employer, corporation, organization, trust, organized health care group or other entity.

(B) Any plan for which the beneficiary pays a premium to an issuing agent as well as any plan to which the beneficiary is entitled as a result of employment or membership in or association with an organization or group.

(C) Any Employee Retirement Income and Security Act (ERISA) plan.

(D) Any Multiple Employer Trust (MET).

(E) Any Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA).

(F) Any Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan, including any such plan with a point-of-service provision or option.

(G) Any individual practice association (IPA) plan.

(H) Any exclusive provider organization (EPO) plan.

(I) Any physician hospital organization (PHO) plan.

(J) Any integrated delivery system (IDS) plan.

(K) Any management service organization (MSO) plan.

(L) Any group or individual medical services account.

(M) Any participating provider organization (PPO) plan or any PPO provision or option of any third-party payer plan.

(N) Any Medicare supplemental insurance plan.

(O) Any automobile liability insurance plan.

(P) Any no fault insurance plan, including any personal injury protection plan or medical payments benefit plan for personal injuries arising from the operation of a motor vehicle.

Medicare supplemental insurance plan means an insurance, medical service or health-plan contract primarily for the purpose of supplementing an eligible person's benefit under Medicare. The term has the same meaning as “Medicare supplemental policy” in section 1882(g)(1) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395, et seq.) and 42 CFR part 403, subpart B.

No-fault insurance means an insurance contract providing compensation for medical expenses relating to personal injury arising from the operation of a motor vehicle in which the compensation is not premised on who may have been responsible for causing such injury. No-fault insurance includes personal injury protection and medical payments benefits in cases involving personal injuries resulting from operation of a motor vehicle.

Participating provider organization means any arrangement in a third-party payer plan under which coverage is limited to services provided by a select group of providers who are members of the PPO or incentives (for example, reduced copayments) are provided for beneficiaries under the plan to receive health care services from the members of the PPO rather than from other providers who, although authorized to be paid, are not included in the PPO. However, a PPO does not include any organization that is recognized as a health maintenance organization.

Third-party payer means an entity, other than the person who received the medical care or services at issue (first party) and VA who provided the care or services (second party), responsible for the payment of medical expenses on behalf of a person through insurance, agreement or contract. This term includes, but is not limited to the following:

(A) State and local governments that provide such plans other than Medicaid.

(B) Insurance underwriters or carriers.

(C) Private employers or employer groups offering self-insured or partially self-insured medical service or health plans.

(D) Automobile liability insurance underwriter or carrier.

(E) No fault insurance underwriter or carrier.

(F) Workers' compensation program or plan sponsor, underwriter, carrier, or self-insurer.

(G) Any other plan or program that is designed to provide compensation or coverage for expenses incurred by a beneficiary for healthcare services or products.

(H) A third-party administrator.

(b) Calculating reasonable charges. (1) The “reasonable charges” subject to recovery or collection by VA under this section are calculated using the applicable method for such charges established by VA in 38 CFR 17.101.

(2) If the third-party payer's plan includes a requirement for a deductible or copayment by the beneficiary of the plan, VA will recover or collect reasonable charges less that deductible or copayment amount.

(c) VA's right to recover or collect is exclusive. The only way for a third-party payer to satisfy its obligation under this section is to pay the VA facility or other authorized representative of the United States. Payment by a third-party payer to the beneficiary does not satisfy the third-party's obligation under this section.

(1) Pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 1729(b)(2), the United States may file a claim or institute and prosecute legal proceedings against a third-party payer to enforce a right of the United States under 38 U.S.C. 1729 and this section. Such filing or proceedings must be instituted within six years after the last day of the provision of the medical care or services for which recovery or collection is sought.

(2) An authorized representative of the United States may compromise, settle or waive a claim of the United States under this section.

(3) The remedies authorized for collection of indebtedness due the United States under 31 U.S.C. 3701, et seq., 28 CFR part 11, 31 CFR parts 900 through 904 and 38 CFR part 1, are available to effect collections under this section.

(4) A third-party payer may not, without the consent of a U.S. Government official authorized to take action under 38 U.S.C. 1729 and this part, offset or reduce any payment due under 38 U.S.C. 1729 or this part on the grounds that the payer considers itself due a refund from a VA facility. A written request for a refund must be submitted and adjudicated separately from any other claims submitted to the third-party payer under 38 U.S.C. 1729 or this part.

(d) Assignment of benefits or other submission by beneficiary not necessary. The obligation of the third-party payer to pay is not dependent upon the beneficiary executing an assignment of benefits to the United States. Nor is the obligation to pay dependent upon any other submission by the beneficiary to the third-party payer, including any claim or appeal. In any case in which VA makes a claim, appeal, representation, or other filing under the authority of this part, any procedural requirement in any third-party payer plan for the beneficiary of such plan to make the claim, appeal, representation, or other filing must be deemed to be satisfied. A copy of the completed VA Form 10-10EZ or VA Form 10-10EZR that includes a veteran's insurance declaration will be provided to payers upon request, in lieu of a claimant's statement or coordination of benefits form.

(e) Preemption of conflicting State laws and contracts. Any provision of a law or regulation of a State or political subdivision thereof and any provision of any contract or agreement that purports to establish any requirement on a third-party payer that would have the effect of excluding from coverage or limiting payment for any medical care or services for which payment by the third-party payer under 38 U.S.C. 1729 or this part is required, is preempted by 38 U.S.C. 1729(f) and shall have no force or effect in connection with the third-party payer's obligations under 38 U.S.C. 1729 or this part.

(f) Impermissible exclusions by third-party payers. (1) Statutory requirement. Under 38 U.S.C. 1729(f), no provision of any third-party payer's plan having the effect of excluding from coverage or limiting payment for certain care if that care is provided in or through any VA facility shall operate to prevent collection by the United States.

(2) General rules. The following are general rules for the administration of 38 U.S.C. 1729 and this part, with examples provided for clarification. The examples provided are not exclusive. A third-party payer may not reduce, offset, or request a refund for payments made to VA under the following conditions:

(i) Express exclusions or limitations in third-party payer plans that are inconsistent with 38 U.S.C. 1729 are inoperative. For example, a provision in a third-party payer's plan that purports to disallow or limit payment for services provided by a government entity or paid for by a government program (or similar exclusion) is not a permissible ground for refusing or reducing third-party payment.

(ii) No objection, precondition or limitation may be asserted that defeats the statutory purpose of collecting from third-party payers. For example, a provision in a third-party payer's plan that purports to disallow or limit payment for services for which the patient has no obligation to pay (or similar exclusion) is not a permissible ground for refusing or reducing third-party payment.

(iii) Third-party payers may not treat claims arising from services provided in or through VA facilities less favorably than they treat claims arising from services provided in other hospitals. For example, no provision of an employer sponsored program or plan that purports to make ineligible for coverage individuals who are eligible to receive VA medical care and services shall be permissible.

(iv) The lack of a participation agreement or the absence of privity of contract between a third-party payer and VA is not a permissible ground for refusing or reducing third-party payment.

(v) A provision in a third-party payer plan, other than a Medicare supplemental plan, that seeks to make Medicare the primary payer and the plan the secondary payer or that would operate to carve out of the plan's coverage an amount equivalent to the Medicare payment that would be made if the services were provided by a provider to whom payment would be made under Part A or Part B of Medicare is not a permissible ground for refusing or reducing payment as the primary payer to VA by the third-party payer unless the provision expressly disallows payment as the primary payer to all providers to whom payment would not be made under Medicare (including payment under Part A, Part B, a Medicare HMO, or a Medicare Advantage plan).

(vi) A third-party payer may not refuse or reduce third-party payment to VA because VA's claim form did not report hospital acquired conditions (HAC) or present on admission conditions (POA). VA is exempt from the Medicare Inpatient prospective payment system and the Medicare rules for reporting POA or HAC information to third-party payers.

(vii) Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) may not exclude claims or refuse to certify emergent and urgent services provided within the HMO's service area or otherwise covered non-emergency services provided out of the HMO's service area. In addition, opt-out or point-of-service options available under an HMO plan may not exclude services otherwise payable under 38 U.S.C. 1729 or this part.

(viii) A third party may not reduce or refuse payment if the facility where the medical treatment was furnished is designated by VA as provider-based, but the facility does not meet the provider-based status requirements under 42 CFR 413.65.

(g) Records. Pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 1729(h), VA shall make available for inspection and review to representatives of third-party payers, from which the United States seeks payment, recovery, or collection under 38 U.S.C. 1729, appropriate health care records (or copies of such records) of patients. However, the appropriate records will be made available only for the purposes of verifying the care and services which are the subject of the claim(s) for payment under 38 U.S.C. 1729, and for verifying that the care and services met the permissible criteria of the terms and conditions of the third-party payer's plan. Patient care records will not be made available under any other circumstances to any other entity. VA will not make available to a third-party payer any other patient or VA records.

(Authority: 31 U.S.C. 3711, 38 U.S.C. 501, 1729, 42 U.S.C. 2651)

[76 FR 37204, June 24, 2011, as amended at 79 FR 54616, Sept. 12, 2014; 85 FR 53176, Aug. 28, 2020]

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