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Rule

Enrollment-Provision of Hospital and Outpatient Care to Veterans

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

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AGENCY:

Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

VA's medical regulations captioned “Enrollment—Provision of Hospital and Outpatient Care to Veterans” implement a national enrollment system to manage the delivery of inpatient hospital care and outpatient medical care. Prior to October 1, 2002, veterans were eligible to be enrolled based on seven priority categories. In this final rule we add veterans awarded the Purple Heart to priority category 3 to implement new statutory requirements. We also delete the copayment provisions from priority category 4 to clarify statutory requirements. In addition, we divide priority category 7 into two new priority categories (7 and 8) to implement new statutory requirements, using the subpriorities for former category 7 for these new categories. Further, we state principles for placing veterans in enrollment categories to help ensure clarity and fairness in making priority category determinations. Finally, we change the VA officials who can make enrollment decisions and provide an additional address for sending a request for voluntary disenrollment.

DATES:

Effective Date: November 8, 2002.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Amy Hertz, Office of Policy and Planning (105D), at (202) 273-8934 or Roscoe Butler, Chief Policy & Operations, Health Administration Service (10C3), at (202) 273-8302. These individuals are in the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and are located at 810 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20420.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

In a document published in the Federal Register on July 23, 2002 (67 FR 48078), the Department of Veterans Affairs proposed to amend its enrollment regulations that manage the delivery of inpatient hospital care and outpatient medical care. We requested comments for a 30-day period that ended August 22, 2002, to allow for a final rule to be established in time to allow the VA Secretary to have as many options as possible concerning the provision of health care services to veterans in fiscal year 2003. We received no comments. Based on the rationale set forth in the proposed rule, we are adopting the proposed rule as a final rule.

Unfunded Mandates

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act requires, at 2 U.S.C. 1532, that agencies prepare an assessment of anticipated costs and benefits before developing any rule that may result in an expenditure by State, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100 million or more in any given year. This rule would have no consequential effect on State, local, or tribal governments.

Paperwork Reduction Act

This document contains no provisions constituting a collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).

Executive Order 12866

This document has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Secretary hereby certifies that this regulatory amendment will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities as they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601-612. This amendment would not directly affect any small entities. Only individuals could be directly affected. Therefore, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 605(b), this amendment is exempt from the initial and final regulatory flexibility analysis requirements of sections 603 and 604.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Numbers

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance numbers for the programs affected by this document are 64.005, 64.007, 64.008, 64.009, 64.010, 64.011, 64.012, 64.013, 64.014, 64.015, 64.016, 64.018, 64.019, 64.022, and 64.025.

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List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 17

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Approved: September 18, 2002.

Anthony J. Principi,

Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

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For the reasons set out in the preamble,

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PART 17—MEDICAL

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1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 1721, unless otherwise noted.

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2. Section 17.36 is amended by:

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A. Removing “Chief Network Officer” wherever it appears and adding, in its place, “Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management

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B. Revising paragraphs (a)(2), (b)(4), and (b)(7).

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C. In paragraph (b)(3), removing “prisoners of war;” and adding, in its place, “prisoners of war; veterans awarded the Purple Heart;”

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D. Adding a new paragraph (b)(8).

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E. Revising paragraph (d)(1); removing “Note to Paragraph (d)(1)”; and redesignating paragraphs (d)(3) through (d)(5) as paragraphs (d)(4) through (d)(6), respectively.

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F. Adding a new paragraph (d)(3).

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G. Revising newly redesignated paragraphs (d)(5) introductory text; and (d)(5)(i).

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H. In newly redesignated paragraph (d)(5)(iii), removing “priority category 5;” and adding, in its place, “priority category 5 or priority category 7;”.

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I. In paragraph (f), removing “[insert actual photocopy of VA Form 10-10EZ]”.

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J. Revising the authority at the end of the section.

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The revisions and additions read as follows:

Enrollment—provision of hospital and outpatient care to veterans.

(a) * * *

(2) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, a veteran enrolled under this section and who, if required by law to do so, has agreed to make any applicable copayment is eligible for VA hospital and outpatient care as provided in the “medical benefits package” set forth in § 17.38.

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(b) * * *

(4) Veterans who receive increased pension based on their need for regular aid and attendance or by reason of being permanently housebound and other veterans who are determined to be catastrophically disabled by the Chief of Staff (or equivalent clinical official) at the VA facility where they were examined.

* * * * *

(7) Veterans who agree to pay to the United States the applicable copayment determined under 38 U.S.C. 1710(f) and 1710(g) if their income for the previous year constitutes “low income” under the geographical income limits established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the fiscal year that ended on September 30 of the previous calendar year. For purposes of this paragraph, VA will determine the income of veterans (to include the income of their spouses and dependents) using the rules in §§ 3.271, 3.272, 3.273, and 3.276. After determining the veterans' income and the number of persons in the veterans' family (including only the spouse and dependent children), VA will compare their income with the current applicable “low-income” income limit for the public housing and section 8 programs in their area that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development publishes pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1437a(b)(2). If the veteran's income is below the applicable “low-income” income limits for the area in which the veteran resides, the veteran will be considered to have “low income” for purposes of this paragraph. To avoid a hardship to a veteran, VA may use the projected income for the current year of the veteran, spouse, and dependent children if the projected income is below the “low income” income limit referenced above. This category is further prioritized into the following subcategories:

(i) Noncompensable zero percent service-connected veterans; and

(ii) All other priority category 7 veterans.

(8) Veterans not included in priority category 4 or 7, who are eligible for care only if they agree to pay to the United States the applicable copayment determined under 38 U.S.C. 1710(f) and 1710(g). This category is further prioritized into the following subcategories:

(i) Noncompensable zero percent service-connected veterans; and

(ii) All other priority category 8 veterans.

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(d) Enrollment and disenrollment process—(1) Application for enrollment. A veteran may apply to be enrolled in the VA healthcare system at any time. A veteran who wishes to be enrolled must apply by submitting a VA Form 10-10EZ to a VA medical facility. Veterans applying based on inclusion in priority categories 1, 2, 3, 6, and 8 do not need to complete section II, but must complete the rest of the form. Veterans applying based on inclusion in priority category 4 because of their need for regular aid and attendance or by being permanently housebound need not complete section II, but must complete the rest of the form. Veterans applying based on inclusion in priority category 4 because they are catastrophically disabled need not complete section II, but must complete the rest of the form, if: they agree to pay to the United States the applicable copayment determined under 38 U.S.C. 1710(f) and 1710(g); they are a veteran of the Mexican border period or of World War I or a veteran with a 0 percent service-connected disability who is nevertheless compensated; their catastrophic disability is a disorder associated with exposure to a toxic substance or radiation, or with service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Gulf War as provided in 38 U.S.C. 1710(e); or their catastrophic disability is an illness associated with service in combat in a war after the Gulf War or during a period of hostility after November 11, 1998, as provided in 38 U.S.C. 1710(e). All other veterans applying based on inclusion in priority category 4 because they are catastrophically disabled must complete the entire form. Veterans applying based on inclusion in priority category 5 must complete the entire form. Veterans applying based on inclusion in priority category 7 must complete the entire form except for section IIE. VA form 10-10EZ is set forth in paragraph (f) of this section and is available from VA medical facilities.

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(3) Placement in enrollment categories.

(i) Veterans will be placed in priority categories whether or not veterans in that category are eligible to be enrolled.

(ii) A veteran will be placed in the highest priority category or categories for which the veteran qualifies.

(iii) A veteran may be placed in only one priority category, except that a veteran placed in priority category 6 based on a specified disorder or illness will also be placed in priority category 7 or priority category 8, as applicable, if the veteran has previously agreed to pay the applicable copayment, for all matters not covered by priority category 6.

(iv) A veteran who had been enrolled based on inclusion in priority category 5 and became no longer eligible for inclusion in priority category 5 due to failure to submit to VA a current VA Form 10-10EZ will be changed automatically to enrollment based on inclusion in priority category 6 or 8 (or more than one of these categories if the previous principle applies), as applicable, and be considered continuously enrolled. To meet the criteria for priority category 5, a veteran must be eligible for priority category 5 based on the information submitted to VA in a current VA Form 10-10EZ. To be current, after VA has sent a form 10-10EZ to the veteran at the veteran's last known address, the veteran must return the completed form (including signature) to the address on the return envelope within 60 days from the date VA sent the form to the veteran.Start Printed Page 62889

(v) Veterans will be disenrolled, and reenrolled, in the order of the priority categories listed with veterans in priority category 1 being the last to be disenrolled and the first to be reenrolled. Similarly, within priority categories 7 and 8, veterans will be disenrolled, and reenrolled, in the order of the priority subcategories listed with veterans in subcategory (i) being the last to be disenrolled and first to be reenrolled.

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(5) Disenrollment. A veteran enrolled in the VA health care system under paragraph (d)(2) or (d)(4) of this section will be disenrolled only if:

(i) The veteran submits to a VA medical center or the VA Health Eligibility Center, 1644 Tullie Circle, Atlanta, Georgia 30329, a signed document stating that the veteran no longer wishes to be enrolled; or

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(Authority: 38 U.S.C 101, 501, 1521, 1701, 1705, 1710, 1721, 1722).

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[FR Doc. 02-25491 Filed 10-8-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8320-01-P