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Rule

Copayments for Extended Care Services

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This document amends VA's medical regulations by modifying provisions regarding the methodology of computing copayments for extended care services provided to veterans. This final rule enhances the protection of veterans' spouses by not counting certain assets as available resources for computing these copayments. Other non-substantive changes are made for purposes of clarification.

DATES:

Effective Date: The final rule is effective August 2, 2004.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Eileen Downey, Chief Business Office (161), at (202) 254-0347 and Daniel Schoeps, Geriatrics and Extended Care (114), at (202) 273-8540. Both are officials in the Veterans Health Administration, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20420. (These are not toll free numbers.)

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

In a document published in the Federal Register on October 16, 2003 (68 FR 59557), we proposed to amend VA's medical regulations by modifying provisions regarding the methodology of computing copayments for extended care services provided to veterans either directly by VA or by contract. These changes are as follows: We are revising the formulas to clarify what resources veterans have available for purposes of determining the appropriate copayment. We are excluding from the definition of “available resources” contained in paragraph (d)(1) of § 17.111 income, assets, expenses and allowance of legally separated spouses. We are removing from the definition of “veterans allowance” the inclusion of expenses because we are now including expenses in the definition of “available resources” contained in paragraph (d)(1) of § 17.111. We are also changing the definition of “expenses,” to include (1) insurance premiums of the veteran and the veteran's spouse and dependents and (2) personal property taxes, not just income taxes. Further, we are clarifying that the definition of “liquid assets,” includes art, rare coins, stamp collections, and collectibles and changing that definition to exclude household and personal items such as Start Printed Page 39846furniture, clothing, and jewelry when the veteran's spouse or the veteran's dependents are living in the community or the veteran is receiving noninstitutional extended care services. We are adding at paragraph (d)(2)(vi) of § 17.111 a definition of “spousal resource protection amount” to permit a spouse to maintain some liquid assets while they live in the community. Lastly, we are clarifying that a veteran must report a change in marital status to a VA medical facility within 10 days of the change.

The public comment period ended on December 15, 2003, without any comment. Based on the rationale set forth in the proposed rule, we are adopting the provisions of the proposed rule as a final rule without any changes.

Paperwork Reduction Act

The Office of Management and Budget has approved the collections of information requirements related to this rulemaking proceeding under OMB control number 2900-0629.

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 such effect on State, local, or tribal governments, or the private sector.

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: May 28, 2004.

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. In § 17.111, paragraphs (d) through (g) and the authority citation at the end of the section are revised to read as follows:

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Copayments for extended care services.
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(d) Effect of the veteran's financial resources on obligation to pay copayment. (1) A veteran is obligated to pay the copayment to the extent the veteran and the veteran's spouse have available resources. For veterans who have been receiving extended care services for 180 days or less, their available resources are the sum of the income of the veteran and the veteran's spouse, minus the sum of the veterans allowance, the spousal allowance, and expenses. For veterans who have been receiving extended care services for 181 days or more, their available resources are the sum of the value of the liquid assets, the fixed assets, and the income of the veteran and the veteran's spouse, minus the sum of the veterans allowance, the spousal allowance, the spousal resource protection amount, and (but only if the veteran—has a spouse or dependents residing in the community who is not institutionalized) expenses. When a veteran is legally separated from a spouse, available resources do not include spousal income, expenses, and assets or a spousal allowance.

(2) For purposes of determining available resources under this section:

(i) Income means current income (including, but not limited to, wages and income from a business (minus business expenses), bonuses, tips, severance pay, accrued benefits, cash gifts, inheritance amounts, interest income, standard dividend income from non tax deferred annuities, retirement income, pension income, unemployment payments, worker's compensation payments, black lung payments, tort settlement payments, social security payments, court mandated payments, payments from VA or any other Federal programs, and any other income). The amount of current income will be stated in frequency of receipt, e.g., per week, per month.

(ii) Expenses means basic subsistence expenses, including current expenses for the following: rent/mortgage for primary residence; vehicle payment for one vehicle; food for veteran, veteran's spouse, and veteran's dependents; education for veteran, veteran's spouse, and veteran's dependents; court-ordered payments of veteran or veteran's spouse (e.g., alimony, child-support); and including the average monthly expenses during the past year for the following: utilities and insurance for the primary residence; out-of-pocket medical care costs not otherwise covered by health insurance; health insurance premiums for the veteran, veteran's spouse, and veteran's dependents; and taxes paid on income and personal property.

(iii) Fixed Assets means:

(A) Real property and other non-liquid assets; except that this does not include—

(1) Burial plots;

(2) A residence if the residence is:

(i) The primary residence of the veteran and the veteran is receiving only noninstitutional extended care service; or

(ii) The primary residence of the veteran's spouse or the veteran's dependents (if the veteran does not have a spouse) if the veteran is receiving institutional extended care service.

(3) A vehicle if the vehicle is:

(i) The vehicle of the veteran and the veteran is receiving only noninstitutional extended care service; or

(ii) The vehicle of the veteran's spouse or the veteran's dependents (if the veteran does not have a spouse) if the veteran is receiving institutional extended care service.

(B) [Reserved]

(iv) Liquid assets means cash, stocks, dividends received from IRA, 401K's and other tax deferred annuities, bonds, mutual funds, retirement accounts (e.g., IRA, 401Ks, annuities), art, rare coins, stamp collections, and collectibles of the veteran, spouse, and dependents. This includes household and personal items (e.g., furniture, clothing, and jewelry) except when the veteran's Start Printed Page 39847spouse or dependents are living in the community.

(v) Spousal allowance is an allowance of $20 per day that is included only if the spouse resides in the community (not institutionalized).

(vi) Spousal resource protection amount means the value of liquid assets but not to exceed $89,280 if the spouse is residing in the community (not institutionalized).

(vii) Veterans allowance is an allowance of $20 per day.

(3) The maximum amount of a copayment for any month equals the copayment amount specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section multiplied by the number of days in the month. The copayment for any month may be less than the amount specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section if the veteran provides information in accordance with this section to establish that the copayment should be reduced or eliminated.

(e) Requirement to submit information. (1) Unless exempted under paragraph (f) of this section, a veteran must submit to a VA medical facility a completed VA Form 10-10EC and documentation requested by the Form at the following times:

(i) At the time of initial request for an episode of extended care services;

(ii) At the time of request for extended care services after a break in provision of extended care services for more than 30 days; and

(iii) Each year at the time of submission to VA of VA Form 10-10EZ.

(2) When there are changes that might change the copayment obligation (i.e., changes regarding marital status, fixed assets, liquid assets, expenses, income (when received), or whether the veteran has a spouse or dependents residing in the community), the veteran must report those changes to a VA medical facility within 10 days of the change.

(f) Veterans and care that are not subject to the copayment requirements. The following veterans and care are not subject to the copayment requirements of this section:

(1) A veteran with a compensable service-connected disability;

(2) A veteran whose annual income (determined under 38 U.S.C. 1503) is less than the amount in effect under 38 U.S.C. 1521(b);

(3) Care for a veteran's noncompensable zero percent service-connected disability;

(4) An episode of extended care services that began on or before November 30, 1999;

(5) Care authorized under 38 U.S.C. 1710(e) for Vietnam-era herbicide-exposed veterans, radiation-exposed veterans, Persian Gulf War veterans, or post-Persian Gulf War combat-exposed veterans;

(6) Care for treatment of sexual trauma as authorized under 38 U.S.C. 1720D; or

(7) Care or services authorized under 38 U.S.C. 1720E for certain veterans regarding cancer of the head or neck.

(g) VA Form 10-10EC.

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(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 101(28), 501, 1701(7), 1710, 1710B, 1720B, 1720D, 1722A)

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BILLING CODE 8320-01-P

[FR Doc. 04-14798 Filed 6-30-04; 8:45 am]

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