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  • Washington Highlights

    VA Releases Interim Final Rule for Veterans Care Agreements

    Kate Ogden, Physician Payment & Quality Specialist

    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) May 14 released an interim final rule on Veterans Care Agreements (VCA). This rule implements section 101 of the Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018 (VA MISSION Act, P.L. 115-182),which authorizes the VA to enter into agreements to “furnish required care and services when such care and services are not feasibly available to certain individuals through a VA facility, a contract, or a sharing agreement”.

    This rule does not implement the new VA Community Care Program, which will be addressed in separate rulemaking. However, the VA needs to finalize these VCAs ahead of the new Community Care Program, as the MISSION Act requires that the current VA Choice Program end June 6, 2019, meaning that the VA will no longer be able to use Choice Program provider agreements. The VA will establish new care agreements that will replace the Choice program provider agreements as a method for purchasing community care. The VA states that the new Community Care Program provider networks may not be at full coverage by June 6, necessitating new care agreements to replace the Choice Program until the Community Care Program networks are operational.

    This interim final rule establishes the parameters of these new care agreements, including a certification process for providers, reimbursement methodology, and an administrative process for adjudicating disputes.