Thank you for partnering with Veterans Affairs to provide health care to our nation's Veterans. While VA has a comprehensive system of care for eligible Veterans and other beneficiaries, it's good to know we can count on your assistance when VA services are not available. Last year, VA paid for care in the community for nearly 1 million Veterans. That represents a significant portion of our enrollees, so the services you provide play an essential role in helping us accomplish our mission.
This site is designed to give you an overview of working with VA and answer questions providers frequently ask us. If you need additional help, feel free to contact the nearest VA medical center.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a nationwide system of health care services and benefits programs for America’s Veterans. Through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), VA provides health care to approximately 5 million Veterans annually. VA operates the nation’s largest integrated health care system with more than 1,400 sites of care, including hospitals, community clinics, nursing homes, domiciliaries, readjustment counseling centers, and various other facilities. VA health care facilities provide a broad spectrum of medical, surgical, and rehabilitative care.
VA manages the largest medical education and health professions training program in the United States and maintains affiliations with more than 107 medical schools, 55 dental schools and more than 1,200 other schools across the country. Each year, about 90,000 health professionals are trained in VA medical centers. More than half of the physicians practicing in the United States had some of their professional education in the VA health care system.
In general, Veterans seeking health care at VA expense should be treated at VA facilities. Non-VA provided care, also known as Purchased Care, is only authorized under specific circumstances, such as when VA facilities/services are not feasibly available or cannot be economically provided to the Veteran. VA may purchase care outside of VA for any form of care a Veteran may need, including inpatient, outpatient, emergent medication prescriptions, and long-term care, as long as it is related to a service-connected condition.
Once Purchased Care is authorized, Veterans may seek treatment from a provider in their community. This guide details what non-VA providers should expect in terms of authorizations and referrals, claims payment, and the return of medical documentation back to the authorizing VA Medical Center (VAMC).
To ensure that VA pays for the appropriate care needed, services should always be preauthorized, except in the case of an emergency. This process helps to ensure that the Veteran, provider, and VA know what care VA is responsible for providing. If a Veteran is being treated at a VA medical facility or is under the jurisdiction of a VA provider and the provider determines that the Veteran needs care that is not available in the VA medical facility, VA is responsible for obtaining and paying for that care. Veterans cannot self-refer for medical care or services.
When specialty care is needed, the Veteran must either be evaluated in an urgent/emergent setting or call for an appointment with the primary care team. The Veteran is then screened to determine the medical necessity of the appointment. When a primary care physician determines that a specialty consult is needed, a request is completed.
All non-emergent Non-VA care must be pre-authorized by VA. Office visits, outpatient diagnosis and treatment, and elective inpatient admissions must be preauthorized. A VA representative will contact your office to coordinate the Veteranís appointment date, time, and additional pertinent information. The care is authorized on a VA Form 10-7079 (outpatient) or 10-7078 (inpatient). A sample of this form is below.
Additional non-emergent treatment requests must be coordinated and approved by VA prior to the treatment being initiated. To gain approval, contact the VA facility that authorized the original treatment. See the authorization form for contact information.
If an emergency develops during the provision of authorized care/treatment, the subsequent emergency care would be authorized. Urgent/emergent hospital admissions should be reported to the nearest VA within 24 hours when possible; notification should not exceed 72 hours. Should the Veteran require a higher level of care that cannot be provided at the current non-VA facility, VA must be notified to facilitate admission to a VA Medical Center or to authorize the transfer to a second non-VA facility. If the VA has capacity and provides the appropriate level of service, a transfer to the VA hospital will be facilitated when the patient is stable to transfer. If the patient refuses transfer, VA payment will cease and the Veteran will be liable for additional physician and facility charges.
Unauthorized care is when a Veteran obtains care, outside the VA health care system, without prior authorization. In limited circumstances VA may pay for care that is unauthorized. However, Veterans who obtain non-emergency, unauthorized care, run the risk of having to pay for all or part of the care they obtain.
Veterans who need emergency care, in accordance with the prudent layperson standard, are directed to the nearest emergency facility. If emergency care requires a hospital admission, VA must be notified as soon as possible within 72 hours.
Timely filing limits apply to unauthorized emergency care, and the requirements vary depending on whether or not the Veteran has a service-connected disability rating (see the section on Claims and Payments). It is essential that the non-VA facility contact the VA hospital as soon as possible to make them aware of the emergency treatment.
The following instructions apply to submitting claims to a VA Medical Center for payment. Please note, the following legal restrictions apply to VA payments:
VA accepts and encourages electronic health care claims that satisfy criteria established in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The standard transactions that are included within HIPAA regulations consist of standard electronic formats for enrollment, eligibility, payment and remittance advice, claims, health plan premium payments, health claim status, referral certification and authorization.
VA contracts with Emdeon to provide clearing house services for electronic health care claims. To register or submit an EDI claim to your local VA health care facility, please call 1-800-845-6592 or visit http://www.emdeon.com/payerlists/.
While registering you will need the VA Fee Program payer IDs which include:
To submit claims for payment, complete the appropriate form and provide the codes or the treatment rendered just as you would when completing a Medicare claim. Submit the claim to the Fee Office of the VA facility that issued the authorization.
Claims submitted to VA for payment consideration must include a completed original CMS 1500 and/or CMS 1450 (UB-04) billing forms to include, at a minimum, the following patient and provider information:
VA Fee programs have different claims filing deadlines depending on how the claim is being considered for payment:
Providers who disagree with the VA decision to deny payment for a claim have the right to request reconsideration of the claim. Providers disagreeing with the initial decision to deny the claim in whole or in part may submit a reconsideration request in writing to the referring VA Fee Office within one year. The request must state why the provider believes the decision is in error and must include any new and relevant information not previously considered.
The request for reconsideration may include a request for a meeting with the immediate supervisor of the initial VA decision-maker, the claimant, and the claimant's representative (if the claimant wishes to have a representative present). Such a meeting shall only be for the purpose of discussing the issues and shall not include formal procedures (e.g., presentation, cross-examination of witnesses, etc.). The meeting will be taped and transcribed by VA if requested by the claimant and a copy of the transcription shall be provided to the claimant.
After reviewing the matter, the immediate supervisor of the initial VA decision-maker shall issue a written decision that affirms, reverses, or modifies the initial decision.
The final decision of the immediate supervisor of the initial VA decision-maker will inform the claimant of further appellate rights for an appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals.
In situations where a Veteran has coverage under Medicare or any other health plan, federal law prohibits providers from receiving payment from both VA and the other health plan for the same services. Non-VA providers may not bill any other payer for care authorized by VA.
If a Veteran chooses to use VA benefits, the Veteran is responsible for paying applicable VA co-payments. VA payment is payment in full, and the non-VA provider is prohibited by law from billing the Veteran or the Veteranís other health plan for charges beyond VA payment.
If a Veteran chooses to have a claim submitted to another health plan in lieu of VA benefits, the Veteran is responsible for paying any co-payment or deductible required by their other health insurance to the non-VA provider. Except in specific instances, VA will not pay deductibles, co-payments, or the balance of the facility charges to the non-VA facility.
All providers need to be registered in VAís payment system in order for the VA to process payments for services. To register, a Standard Form 3881 and Form W-9 need to be completed. Once completed, return them to your local VA Medical Center via mail where they can upload your information into their computer system and forward your form to the center that processes the reimbursement.
The U.S. Department of Treasury published a final rule on Electronic Funds Transfer (31 C.F.R. 208) on Dec. 21, 2010. This rule requires that all federal payments be made electronically. This requirement includes payments made to non-VA medical and dental providers. Non-VA providers have two options to meet this requirement.
First, you can choose to receive payment by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). To enroll in EFT, youíll need to complete an SF 3881 (see link above) and fax it to (512) 460-5221. Please note, converting from paper checks to EFT will reduce payment processing times. Please call the VA Financial Services Center at (512) 460-5049 for more information.
A second option is the VA Fee Pay (SmartPay) Purchase Card Program. The GSA-SmartPay Purchase Card Program offers rapid electronic claims payments. The VA will pay your Fee claims using their GSA-SmartPay Purchase Card. These payments will be made electronically to your bank account. You can track and manage your Fee payments using your account on the VAFEEPay.com transaction processing system.
VA has made electronic explanation of benefits (EOB) statements available for all non-VA providers. Please go to https://www.vahcps.fsc.va.gov/login.aspx for login instructions.
For services on or after February 15, 2011, the Veterans Health Administration adopted Medicareís payment methodology for all outpatient facility and professional medical services. For reimbursement purposes, VA does not distinguish between Medicare participating and non-participating providers. All providers are reimbursed the Medicare participating rate.
Prior to the appointment/admission, please inform the referring VA point of contact and the Veteran if he or she needs to provide you with medical information to support your treatment. Local VAMC procedures will direct how non-VA providers can obtain radiology films, discs, lab values, and medical records, including:
Care managers and transfer coordinators may be in contact with you for extended care, home care, durable medical equipment, and rehabilitation services that can be arranged through the VA for post-hospitalization care needs and transitioning back to the VA primary care provider.
Medical documentation should contain the patientís name and last four digits of the patientís social security number or date of birth on each page of the documentation returned to VA. Relevant clinical documentation includes, as applicable, the information listed below.
Requests for DME include the purchase or renting of medical equipment necessary to improve function of a diseased, deteriorating or injured body part. Such equipment includes wheelchairs, hospital beds, oxygen equipment, and nebulizers.
DME items are not routinely authorized or paid through the Purchased Care program. DME should be requested of and provided by the authorizing VA facilityís prosthetics or physical medicine department. Providers are encouraged to make prior arrangements and coordinate DME needs for their Veteran patients with the referring VAMC. The referring VAMC is responsible for generating a written VA consult to initiate this process.
The Veterans Health Administration is authorized to provide comprehensive pre-natal, intra-partum, and post-partum care as part of the Uniform Benefits Package for eligible women Veterans. The following eligibility requirements apply to Maternity Benefits:
The eligible Veteran has no additional payment responsibility to the provider of non-VA maternity benefits care for services that have been authorized in advance by VA.
Questions about maternity care for a specific Veteran are best answered by the authorizing VAMC. Contact the Fee Basis Office or the Women Veterans Program Manager at that facility for further assistance.
Public Law 111-163 gives VA the authority to pay for post-delivery care for the newborn children of women Veterans receiving maternity care furnished by VA. The benefit is limited to post-delivery and care provided immediately after birth and not more than 7 days following the birth. Contact the Fee Basis Office or the Women Veterans Program Manager at the Veteranís VAMC if you need further information or assistance.
Non-VA physicians may prescribe medication as a part of treatment for medical care authorized by VA. In general, all prescriptions must be filled at a VA pharmacy. Prescriptions must meet the VA Formulary guidelines, which can be found at http://www.pbm.va.gov/NationalFormulary.aspx.
When it is medically necessary to start the medication promptly, and it is not possible to obtain the medication from the VA pharmacy, VA may reimburse up to a 10-day supply with no refills. The remainder of the prescription should be submitted to the VA Pharmacy Service to be filled.
In addition to purchasing health care for Veterans, The VA Purchased Care program also manages programs for dependents of Veterans. These programs operate differently than the Purchased Care/Fee program for Veterans. If you need additional information about dependent programs, please visit the following web sites: CHAMPVA (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs): http://www.va.gov/hac/forproviders/champva/champva.asp. Spina Bifida Health Care Program: http://www.va.gov/hac/forproviders/spina/spina.asp.
Recently, the Non-VA Medical Care Office (NNPO) identified an issue concerning claims being rejected due to the lack of a 9-digit ZIP code for the Service Facility Location. In some cases, the claim edit and the Preliminary Fee Remittance Advice Report (PFRAR) explanation are not specific as to which ZIP code field is incomplete; it simply prompts the user to correct and resubmit.
Research into this issue has shown that the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system accepts claims with 9-digit ZIP codes as per the 5010 version requirements. However, only the base 5 of the rendering provider ZIP code is able to transfer into the VA systems and applications. Compounding the issue is the usage of a code edit/pricing process that requires, in some instances, the full ZIP +4 to complete accurate pricing.
This issue is understandably frustrating to the sites and vendors alike. VA is currently working on a system resolution for this EDI issue; however, the resolution will not be finalized and implemented until late spring 2013.
In the interim, the following work-around solutions have been identified:
If there are questions regarding this issue, please contact your nearest Veterans' Health Administration Non-VA Medical Care department.
On March 08, 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a summary of adjustments to Anesthesia Fee Schedule Computations effective January 1, 2013 with an implementation date no later than February 12, 2013.
Non-VA Medical Care anesthesia claims were temporarily discontinued for processing until all adjustments to the fee schedule changes were integrated. Non-VA Medical Care anesthesia claims resumed processing on March 20, 2013.
This recent change may have affected claim calculations and payments for Non-VA Medical Care anesthesia claims submitted for dates of service January 1, 2013 through March 19, 2013. Providers who received improper payment(s) due to the fee schedule change are encouraged to contact the VA facility or file a Notice of Disagreement through the Non-VA Medical Care Office, at the local VA facility. If further evaluation determines additional payment is warranted, additional reimbursement will be issued.
Additional information can be found at the Anesthesiologists Center on www.cms.gov or you can find guidance from the CMS Transmittal 2668 here: http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/Transmittals/Downloads/R2668CP.pdf.