[USC07] 38 USC 1703: Contracts for hospital care and medical services in non-Department facilities
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38 USC 1703: Contracts for hospital care and medical services in non-Department facilities Text contains those laws in effect on October 18, 2018
From Title 38-VETERANS' BENEFITSPART II-GENERAL BENEFITSCHAPTER 17-HOSPITAL, NURSING HOME, DOMICILIARY, AND MEDICAL CARESUBCHAPTER I-GENERAL

§1703. Contracts for hospital care and medical services in non-Department facilities

(a) When Department facilities are not capable of furnishing economical hospital care or medical services because of geographical inaccessibility or are not capable of furnishing the care or services required, the Secretary, as authorized in section 1710 of this title, may contract with non-Department facilities in order to furnish any of the following:

(1) Hospital care or medical services to a veteran for the treatment of-

(A) a service-connected disability;

(B) a disability for which a veteran was discharged or released from the active military, naval, or air service; or

(C) a disability of a veteran who has a total disability permanent in nature from a service-connected disability.


(2) Medical services for the treatment of any disability of-

(A) a veteran described in section 1710(a)(1)(B) of this title;

(B) a veteran who (i) has been furnished hospital care, nursing home care, domiciliary care, or medical services, and (ii) requires medical services to complete treatment incident to such care or services; or

(C) a veteran described in section 1710(a)(2)(E) of this title, or a veteran who is in receipt of increased pension, or additional compensation or allowances based on the need of regular aid and attendance or by reason of being permanently housebound (or who, but for the receipt of retired pay, would be in receipt of such pension, compensation, or allowance), if the Secretary has determined, based on an examination by a physician employed by the Department (or, in areas where no such physician is available, by a physician carrying out such function under a contract or fee arrangement), that the medical condition of such veteran precludes appropriate treatment in Department facilities.


(3) Hospital care or medical services for the treatment of medical emergencies which pose a serious threat to the life or health of a veteran receiving medical services in a Department facility or nursing home care under section 1720 of this title until such time following the furnishing of care in the non-Department facility as the veteran can be safely transferred to a Department facility.

(4) Hospital care for women veterans.

(5) Hospital care, or medical services that will obviate the need for hospital admission, for veterans in a State (other than the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico) not contiguous to the contiguous States, except that the annually determined hospital patient load and incidence of the furnishing of medical services to veterans hospitalized or treated at the expense of the Department in Government and non-Department facilities in each such noncontiguous State shall be consistent with the patient load or incidence of the furnishing of medical services for veterans hospitalized or treated by the Department within the 48 contiguous States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

(6) Diagnostic services necessary for determination of eligibility for, or of the appropriate course of treatment in connection with, furnishing medical services at independent Department out-patient clinics to obviate the need for hospital admission.

(7) Outpatient dental services and treatment, and related dental appliances, for a veteran described in section 1712(a)(1)(F) of this title.

(8) Diagnostic services (on an inpatient or outpatient basis) for observation or examination of a person to determine eligibility for a benefit or service under laws administered by the Secretary.


(b) In the case of any veteran for whom the Secretary contracts to furnish care or services in a non-Department facility pursuant to a provision of subsection (a) of this section, the Secretary shall periodically review the necessity for continuing such contractual arrangement pursuant to such provision.

(c) The Secretary shall include in the budget documents which the Secretary submits to Congress for any fiscal year a detailed report on the furnishing of contract care and services during the most recently completed fiscal year under this section, sections 1712A, 1720, 1720A, 1724, and 1732 of this title, and section 115 of the Veterans' Benefits and Services Act of 1988 (Public Law 100–322; 102 Stat. 501).

(d)(1) The Secretary shall conduct a program of recovery audits for fee basis contracts and other medical services contracts for the care of veterans under this section, and for beneficiaries under sections 1781, 1782, and 1783 of this title, with respect to overpayments resulting from processing or billing errors or fraudulent charges in payments for non-Department care and services. The program shall be conducted by contract.

(2) Amounts collected, by setoff or otherwise, as the result of an audit under the program conducted under this subsection shall be available, without fiscal year limitation, for the purposes for which funds are currently available to the Secretary for medical care and for payment to a contractor of a percentage of the amount collected as a result of an audit carried out by the contractor.

(3) The Secretary shall allocate all amounts collected under this subsection with respect to a designated geographic service area of the Veterans Health Administration, net of payments to the contractor, to that region.

(4) The authority of the Secretary under this subsection terminates on September 30, 2020.

(Added Pub. L. 99–272, title XIX, §19012(b)(1), Apr. 7, 1986, 100 Stat. 380 , §603; amended Pub. L. 99–166, title I, §102(b)(1), Dec. 3, 1985, 99 Stat. 943 ; Pub. L. 99–272, title XIX, §19012(c)(5)(A), Apr. 7, 1986, 100 Stat. 382 ; Pub. L. 100–322, title I, §§101(e)(3), 104, 112(a), May 20, 1988, 102 Stat. 492 , 493, 499; Pub. L. 100–687, div. B, title XV, §1503(a)(1), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4133 ; Pub. L. 102–54, §14(b)(9), June 13, 1991, 105 Stat. 283 ; renumbered §1703 and amended Pub. L. 102–83, §§4(a)(1), (3)–(5), (b)(1), (2)(E), 5(a), (c)(1), Aug. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 403–406 ; Pub. L. 102–585, title V, §501, Nov. 4, 1992, 106 Stat. 4955 ; Pub. L. 104–262, title I, §104(b), Oct. 9, 1996, 110 Stat. 3184 ; Pub. L. 108–422, title VI, §601, Nov. 30, 2004, 118 Stat. 2396 ; Pub. L. 109–13, div. A, title VI, §6080, May 11, 2005, 119 Stat. 302 ; Pub. L. 110–387, title VIII, §802, Oct. 10, 2008, 122 Stat. 4141 ; Pub. L. 112–37, §10(a), Oct. 5, 2011, 125 Stat. 396 ; Pub. L. 115–182, title I, §101(a)(1), June 6, 2018, 132 Stat. 1395 ; Pub. L. 115–251, title II, §§201(a), 202, Sept. 29, 2018, 132 Stat. 3171 , 3172.)

Amendment of Section

Pub. L. 115–182, title I, §101(a)(1), (b), June 6, 2018, 132 Stat. 1395 , 1403; Pub. L. 115–251, title II, §201, Sept. 29, 2018, 132 Stat. 3171 , provided that, effective on the later of the date that is 30 days after the date on which the Secretary of Veterans Affairs submits the report required under section 101(q)(2) of Pub.L. 113–146 (38 U.S.C. 1701 note) or the date on which the Secretary promulgates regulations pursuant to section 101(c) of Pub. L. 115–182 (set out below), this section is amended to read as follows:

§1703. Veterans Community Care Program

(a) In General.-(1) There is established a program to furnish hospital care, medical services, and extended care services to covered veterans through health care providers specified in subsection (c).

(2) The Secretary shall coordinate the furnishing of hospital care, medical services, and extended care services under this section to covered veterans, including coordination of, at a minimum, the following:

(A) Ensuring the scheduling of medical appointments in a timely manner and the establishment of a mechanism to receive medical records from non-Department providers.

(B) Ensuring continuity of care and services.

(C) Ensuring coordination among regional networks if the covered veteran accesses care and services in a different network than the regional network in which the covered veteran resides.

(D) Ensuring that covered veterans do not experience a lapse in care resulting from errors or delays by the Department or its contractors or an unusual or excessive burden in accessing hospital care, medical services, or extended care services.


(3) A covered veteran may only receive care or services under this section upon the authorization of such care or services by the Secretary.

(b) Covered Veterans.-For purposes of this section, a covered veteran is any veteran who-

(1) is enrolled in the system of annual patient enrollment established and operated under section 1705 of this title; or

(2) is not enrolled in such system but is otherwise entitled to hospital care, medical services, or extended care services under subsection (c)(2) of such section.


(c) Health Care Providers Specified.-Health care providers specified in this subsection are the following:

(1) Any health care provider that is participating in the Medicare program under title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.), including any physician furnishing services under such a program.

(2) The Department of Defense.

(3) The Indian Health Service.

(4) Any Federally-qualified health center (as defined in section 1905(l)(2)(B) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396d(l)(2)(B))).

(5) Any health care provider not otherwise covered under any of paragraphs (1) through (4) that meets criteria established by the Secretary for purposes of this section.


(d) Conditions Under Which Care Is Required To Be Furnished Through Non-Department Providers.-(1) The Secretary shall, subject to the availability of appropriations, furnish hospital care, medical services, and extended care services to a covered veteran through health care providers specified in subsection (c) if-

(A) the Department does not offer the care or services the veteran requires;

(B) the Department does not operate a full-service medical facility in the State in which the covered veteran resides;

(C)(i) the covered veteran was an eligible veteran under section 101(b)(2)(B) of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–146; 38 U.S.C. 1701 note) as of the day before the date of the enactment of the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2018;

(ii) continues to reside in a location that would qualify the veteran for eligibility under such section; and

(iii) either-

(I) resides in one of the five States with the lowest population density as determined by data from the 2010 decennial census; or

(II) resides in a State not described in subclause (I) and-

(aa) received care or services under this title in the year preceding the enactment of the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2018; and

(bb) is seeking care or services within 2 years of the date of the enactment of the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2018;


(D) the covered veteran has contacted the Department to request care or services and the Department is not able to furnish such care or services in a manner that complies with designated access standards developed by the Secretary under section 1703B of this title; or

(E) the covered veteran and the covered veteran's referring clinician agree that furnishing care and services through a non-Department entity or provider would be in the best medical interest of the covered veteran based upon criteria developed by the Secretary.


(2) The Secretary shall ensure that the criteria developed under paragraph (1)(E) include consideration of the following:

(A) The distance between the covered veteran and the facility that provides the hospital care, medical services, or extended care services the veteran needs.

(B) The nature of the hospital care, medical services, or extended care services required.

(C) The frequency that the hospital care, medical services, or extended care services needs to be furnished.

(D) The timeliness of available appointments for the hospital care, medical services, or extended care services the veteran needs.

(E) Whether the covered veteran faces an unusual or excessive burden to access hospital care, medical services, or extended care services from the Department medical facility where a covered veteran seeks hospital care, medical services, or extended care services, which shall include consideration of the following:

(i) Whether the covered veteran faces an excessive driving distance, geographical challenge, or environmental factor that impedes the access of the covered veteran.

(ii) Whether the hospital care, medical services, or extended care services sought by the veteran is provided by a medical facility of the Department that is reasonably accessible to a covered veteran.

(iii) Whether a medical condition of the covered veteran affects the ability of the covered veteran to travel.

(iv) Whether there is compelling reason, as determined by the Secretary, that the veteran needs to receive hospital care, medical services, or extended care services from a medical facility other than a medical facility of the Department.

(v) Such other considerations as the Secretary considers appropriate.


(3) If the Secretary has determined that the Department does not offer the care or services the covered veteran requires under subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1), that the Department does not operate a full-service medical facility in the State in which the covered veteran resides under subparagraph (B) of such paragraph, that the covered veteran is described under subparagraph (C) of such paragraph, or that the Department is not able to furnish care or services in a manner that complies with designated access standards developed by the Secretary under section 1703B of this title under subparagraph (D) of such paragraph, the decision to receive hospital care, medical services, or extended care services under such subparagraphs from a health care provider specified in subsection (c) shall be at the election of the veteran.

(e) Conditions Under Which Care Is Authorized To Be Furnished Through Non-Department Providers.-(1)(A) The Secretary may furnish hospital care, medical services, or extended care services through a health care provider specified in subsection (c) to a covered veteran served by a medical service line of the Department that the Secretary has determined is not providing care that complies with the standards for quality the Secretary shall establish under section 1703C.

(B) In carrying out subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall-

(i) measure timeliness of the medical service line at a facility of the Department when compared with the same medical service line at different Department facilities; and

(ii) measure quality at a medical service line of a facility of the Department by comparing it with two or more distinct and appropriate quality measures at non-Department medical service lines.


(C)(i) The Secretary may not concurrently furnish hospital care, medical services, or extended care services under subparagraph (A) with respect to more than three medical service lines described in such subparagraph at any one health care facility of the Department.

(ii) The Secretary may not concurrently furnish hospital care, medical services, or extended care services under subparagraph (A) with respect to more than 36 medical service lines nationally described in such subparagraph.

(2) The Secretary may limit the types of hospital care, medical services, or extended care services covered veterans may receive under paragraph (1) in terms of the length of time such care and services will be available, the location at which such care and services will be available, and the clinical care and services that will be available.

(3)(A) Except as provided for in subparagraph (B), the hospital care, medical services, and extended care services authorized under paragraph (1) with respect to a medical service line shall cease when the remediation described in section 1706A with respect to such medical service line is complete.

(B) The Secretary shall ensure continuity and coordination of care for any veteran who elects to receive care or services under paragraph (1) from a health care provider specified in subsection (c) through the completion of an episode of care.

(4) The Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register, and shall take all reasonable steps to provide direct notice to covered veterans affected under this subsection, at least once each year stating the time period during which such care and services will be available, the location or locations where such care and services will be available, and the clinical services available at each location under this subsection in accordance with regulations the Secretary shall prescribe.

(5) When the Secretary exercises the authority under paragraph (1), the decision to receive care or services under such paragraph from a health care provider specified in subsection (c) shall be at the election of the covered veteran.

(f) Review of Decisions.-The review of any decision under subsection (d) or (e) shall be subject to the Department's clinical appeals process, and such decisions may not be appealed to the Board of Veterans' Appeals.

(g) Tiered Network.-(1) To promote the provision of high-quality and high-value hospital care, medical services, and extended care services under this section, the Secretary may develop a tiered provider network of eligible providers based on criteria established by the Secretary for purposes of this section.

(2) In developing a tiered provider network of eligible providers under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall not prioritize providers in a tier over providers in any other tier in a manner that limits the choice of a covered veteran in selecting a health care provider specified in subsection (c) for receipt of hospital care, medical services, or extended care services under this section.

(h) Contracts To Establish Networks of Health Care Providers.-(1)(A) The Secretary shall enter into consolidated, competitively bid contracts to establish networks of health care providers specified in paragraphs (1) and (5) of subsection (c) for purposes of providing sufficient access to hospital care, medical services, or extended care services under this section.

(B) For purposes of subparagraph (A), the requirement to enter into consolidated, competitively bid contracts shall not restrict the authority of the Secretary under other provisions of law when modifying such a contract after entering into the contract.

(2)(A) The Secretary shall, to the extent practicable, ensure that covered veterans are able to make their own appointments using advanced technology.

(B) To the extent practicable, the Secretary shall be responsible for the scheduling of appointments for hospital care, medical services, and extended care services under this section.

(3)(A) The Secretary may terminate a contract with an entity entered into under paragraph (1) at such time and upon such notice to the entity as the Secretary may specify for purposes of this section, if the Secretary notifies the appropriate committees of Congress that, at a minimum-

(i) the entity-

(I) failed to comply substantially with the provisions of the contract or with the provisions of this section and the regulations prescribed under this section;

(II) failed to comply with the access standards or the standards for quality established by the Secretary;

(III) is excluded from participation in a Federal health care program (as defined in section 1128B(f) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320a–7b(f))) under section 1128 or 1128A of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320a–7 and 1320a–7a);

(IV) is identified as an excluded source on the list maintained in the System for Award Management, or any successor system; or

(V) has been convicted of a felony or other serious offense under Federal or State law and the continued participation of the entity would be detrimental to the best interests of veterans or the Department;


(ii) it is reasonable to terminate the contract based on the health care needs of veterans; or

(iii) it is reasonable to terminate the contract based on coverage provided by contracts or sharing agreements entered into under authorities other than this section.


(B) Nothing in subparagraph (A) may be construed to restrict the authority of the Secretary to terminate a contract entered into under paragraph (1) under any other provision of law.

(4) Whenever the Secretary provides notice to an entity that the entity is failing to meet contractual obligations entered into under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on such failure. Such report shall include the following:

(A) An explanation of the reasons for providing such notice.

(B) A description of the effect of such failure, including with respect to cost, schedule, and requirements.

(C) A description of the actions taken by the Secretary to mitigate such failure.

(D) A description of the actions taken by the contractor to address such failure.

(E) A description of any effect on the community provider market for veterans in the affected area.


(5)(A) The Secretary shall instruct each entity awarded a contract under paragraph (1) to recognize and accept, on an interim basis, the credentials and qualifications of health care providers who are authorized to furnish hospital care and medical services to veterans under a community care program of the Department in effect as of the day before the date of the enactment of the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2018, including under the Patient-Centered Community Care Program and the Veterans Choice Program under section 101 of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–146; 38 U.S.C. 1701 note), as qualified providers under the program established under this section.

(B) The interim acceptance period under subparagraph (A) shall be determined by the Secretary based on the following criteria:

(i) With respect to a health care provider, when the current certification agreement for the health care provider expires.

(ii) Whether the Department has enacted certification and eligibility criteria and regulatory procedures by which non-Department providers will be authorized under this section.


(6) The Secretary shall establish a system or systems for monitoring the quality of care provided to covered veterans through a network under this subsection and for assessing the quality of hospital care, medical services, and extended care services furnished through such network before the renewal of the contract for such network.

(i) Payment Rates for Care and Services.-(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), and to the extent practicable, the rate paid for hospital care, medical services, or extended care services under any provision in this title may not exceed the rate paid by the United States to a provider of services (as defined in section 1861(u) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395x(u))) or a supplier (as defined in section 1861(d) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 1395x(d))) under the Medicare program under title XI or title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1301 et seq.), including section 1834 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 1395m), for the same care or services.

(2)(A) A higher rate than the rate paid by the United States as described in paragraph (1) may be negotiated with respect to the furnishing of care or services to a covered veteran who resides in a highly rural area.

(B) In this paragraph, the term "highly rural area" means an area located in a county that has fewer than seven individuals residing in that county per square mile.

(3) With respect to furnishing care or services under this section in Alaska, the Alaska Fee Schedule of the Department of Veterans Affairs shall be followed, except for when another payment agreement, including a contract or provider agreement, is in effect.

(4) With respect to furnishing hospital care, medical services, or extended care services under this section in a State with an All-Payer Model Agreement under section 1814(b)(3) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395f(b)(3)) that became effective on or after January 1, 2014, the Medicare payment rates under paragraph (2)(A) shall be calculated based on the payment rates under such agreement.

(5) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the Secretary may incorporate, to the extent practicable, the use of value-based reimbursement models to promote the provision of high-quality care.

(6) With respect to hospital care, medical services, or extended care services for which there is not a rate paid under the Medicare program as described in paragraph (1), the rate paid for such care or services shall be determined by the Secretary.

(j) Treatment of Other Health Plan Contracts.-In any case in which a covered veteran is furnished hospital care, medical services, or extended care services under this section for a non-service-connected disability described in subsection (a)(2) of section 1729 of this title, the Secretary shall recover or collect reasonable charges for such care or services from a health plan contract described in section 1729 in accordance with such section.

(k) Payment by Veteran.-A covered veteran shall not pay a greater amount for receiving care or services under this section than the amount the veteran would pay for receiving the same or comparable care or services at a medical facility of the Department or from a health care provider of the Department.

(l) Transplant Authority for Improved Access.-(1) In the case of a covered veteran described in paragraph (2), the Secretary shall determine whether to authorize an organ or bone marrow transplant for that covered veteran at a non-Department facility.

(2) A covered veteran described in this paragraph-

(A) requires an organ or bone marrow transplant; and

(B) has, in the opinion of the primary care provider of the veteran, a medically compelling reason to travel outside the region of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, established under section 372 of the National Organ Transplantation Act (Public Law 98–507; 42 U.S.C. 274), in which the veteran resides, to receive such transplant.


(m) Monitoring of Care Provided.-(1)(A) Not later than 540 days after the date of the enactment of the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2018, and not less frequently than annually thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to appropriate committees of Congress a review of the types and frequency of care sought under subsection (d).

(B) The review submitted under subparagraph (A) shall include an assessment of the following:

(i) The top 25 percent of types of care and services most frequently provided under subsection (d) due to the Department not offering such care and services.

(ii) The frequency such care and services were sought by covered veterans under this section.

(iii) An analysis of the reasons the Department was unable to provide such care and services.

(iv) Any steps the Department took to provide such care and services at a medical facility of the Department.

(v) The cost of such care and services.


(2) In monitoring the hospital care, medical services, and extended care services furnished under this section, the Secretary shall do the following:

(A) With respect to hospital care, medical services, and extended care services furnished through provider networks established under subsection (i)-

(i) compile data on the types of hospital care, medical services, and extended care services furnished through such networks and how many patients used each type of care and service;

(ii) identify gaps in hospital care, medical services, or extended care services furnished through such networks;

(iii) identify how such gaps may be fixed through new contracts within such networks or changes in the manner in which hospital care, medical services, or extended care services are furnished through such networks;

(iv) assess the total amounts spent by the Department on hospital care, medical services, and extended care services furnished through such networks;

(v) assess the timeliness of the Department in referring hospital care, medical services, and extended care services to such networks; and

(vi) assess the timeliness of such networks in-

(I) accepting referrals; and

(II) scheduling and completing appointments.


(B) Report the number of medical service lines the Secretary has determined under subsection (e)(1) not to be providing hospital care, medical services, or extended care services that comply with the standards for quality established by the Secretary.

(C) Assess the use of academic affiliates and centers of excellence of the Department to furnish hospital care, medical services, and extended care services to covered veterans under this section.

(D) Assess the hospital care, medical services, and extended care services furnished to covered veterans under this section by medical facilities operated by Federal agencies other than the Department.


(3) Not later than 540 days after the date of the enactment of the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2018 and not less frequently than once each year thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on the information gathered under paragraph (2).

(n) Prohibition on Certain Limitations.-(1) The Secretary shall not limit the types of hospital care, medical services, or extended care services covered veterans may receive under this section if it is in the best medical interest of the veteran to receive such hospital care, medical services, or extended care services, as determined by the veteran and the veteran's health care provider.

(2) No provision in this section may be construed to alter or modify any other provision of law establishing specific eligibility criteria for certain hospital care, medical services, or extended care services.

(o) Definitions.-In this section:

(1) The term "appropriate committees of Congress" means-

(A) the Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; and

(B) the Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.


(2) The term "medical service line" means a clinic within a Department medical center.

See 2018 Amendment notes below.

Amendment of Subsection (h)(5)(A)

Pub. L. 115–251, title II, §202, Sept. 29, 2018, 132 Stat. 3172 , provided that subsection (h)(5)(A) of section 1703, set out above, is amended by striking "the date of the enactment" and inserting "the effective date specified in section 101(b)". See 2018 Amendment note below.

References in Text

Section 115 of the Veterans' Benefits and Services Act of 1988, referred to in subsec. (c), is set out as a note under section 1712 of this title.

Amendments

2018-Pub. L. 115–182 amended section generally. Prior to amendment, section related to contracts for hospital care and medical services in non-Department facilities.

Subsec. (h)(1). Pub. L. 115–251, §201(a), designated existing provisions as subpar. (A) and added subpar. (B).

Subsec. (h)(5)(A). Pub. L. 115–251, §202, substituted "the effective date specified in section 101(b)" for "the date of the enactment".

2011-Subsec. (d)(4). Pub. L. 112–37 substituted "September 30, 2020" for "September 30, 2013".

2008-Subsec. (d)(4). Pub. L. 110–387 substituted "September 30, 2013" for "September 30, 2008".

2005-Subsec. (d)(2). Pub. L. 109–13 substituted "shall be available, without fiscal year limitation, for the purposes" for "shall be available for the purposes".

2004-Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 108–422 added subsec. (d).

1996-Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 104–262, §104(b)(1), struck out "or 1712" after ", as authorized in section 1710" in introductory provisions.

Subsec. (a)(2)(A). Pub. L. 104–262, §104(b)(2)(A), substituted "1710(a)(1)(B)" for "1712(a)(1)(B)".

Subsec. (a)(2)(B). Pub. L. 104–262, §104(b)(2)(B), added subpar. (B) and struck out former subpar. (B) which read as follows: "a veteran described in paragraph (2), (3), or (4) of section 1712(a) of this title, for a purpose described in section 1712(a)(5)(B) of this title;".

Subsec. (a)(2)(C). Pub. L. 104–262, §104(b)(2)(C), substituted "section 1710(a)(2)(E) of this title, or a veteran who is in receipt of increased pension, or additional compensation or allowances based on the need of regular aid and attendance or by reason of being permanently housebound (or who, but for the receipt of retired pay, would be in receipt of such pension, compensation, or allowance)," for "section 1712(a)(3) (other than a veteran who is a former prisoner of war) of this title".

Subsec. (a)(7). Pub. L. 104–262, §104(b)(3), substituted "1712(a)(1)(F)" for "1712(b)(1)(F)".

1992-Subsec. (a)(1)(C). Pub. L. 102–585 added subpar. (C).

1991-Pub. L. 102–83, §5(a), renumbered section 603 of this title as this section.

Pub. L. 102–83, §4(a)(5), substituted "non-Department" for "non-Veterans' Administration" in section catchline.

Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 102–83, §5(c)(1), substituted "1710 or 1712" for "610 or 612" in introductory provisions, "1712(a)(1)(B)" for "612(a)(1)(B)" in par. (2)(A), "1712(a)" for "612(a)" and "1712(a)(5)(B)" for "612(a)(5)(B)" in par. (2)(B), "1712(a)(3)" for "612(a)(3)" in par. (2)(C), "1720" for "620" in par. (3), and "1712(b)(1)(F)" for "612(b)(1)(F)" in par. (7).

Pub. L. 102–83, §4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted "Secretary" for "Administrator" in introductory provisions and in par. (2)(C).

Pub. L. 102–83, §4(a)(5), substituted "non-Department" for "non-Veterans' Administration" in introductory provisions and in pars. (3) and (5).

Pub. L. 102–83, §4(a)(3), (4), substituted "Department" for "Veterans' Administration" wherever appearing in introductory provisions and pars. (2), (3), (5), and (6).

Subsec. (a)(2)(B). Pub. L. 102–54, §14(b)(9)(A), struck out "section" before "paragraph".

Subsec. (a)(7). Pub. L. 102–54, §14(b)(9)(B), substituted "section 612(b)(1)(F)" for "section 612(b)(1)(G)".

Subsec. (a)(8). Pub. L. 102–83, §4(a)(1), substituted "administered by the Secretary" for "administered by the Veterans' Administration".

Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 102–83, §4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted "Secretary" for "Administrator" in two places.

Pub. L. 102–83, §4(a)(5), substituted "non-Department" for "non-Veterans' Administration".

Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 102–83, §5(c)(1), substituted "1712A, 1720, 1720A, 1724, and 1732" for "612A, 620, 620A, 624, and 632".

Pub. L. 102–83, §4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted "Secretary" for "Administrator" in two places.

Pub. L. 102–54, §14(b)(9)(C), inserted before period at end "(Public Law 100–322; 102 Stat. 501)".

1988-Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 100–322, §104(b)(1), substituted  "furnish  any  of  the  following:"  for "furnish-".

Subsec. (a)(1). Pub. L. 100–322, §104(b)(2), (3), substituted "Hospital" for "hospital" and the period for semicolon at end.

Subsec. (a)(2). Pub. L. 100–322, §104(b)(2), (3), substituted "Medical" for "medical" and the period for semicolon at end.

Subsec. (a)(2)(B). Pub. L. 100–687 substituted "paragraph (2), (3), or (4) of section 612(a)" for "612(a)(4)", and "612(a)(5)(B)" for "612(a)(5)".

Pub. L. 100–322, §101(e)(3)(A), substituted "section 612(a)(4) of this title, for a purpose described in section 612(a)(5) of this title" for "section 612(f)(1)(A)(ii) of this title".

Subsec. (a)(2)(C). Pub. L. 100–322, §101(e)(3)(B), substituted "section 612(a)(3) (other than a veteran who is a former prisoner of war)" for "section 612(g)".

Subsec. (a)(3). Pub. L. 100–322, §104(a)(1), (b)(2), (3), substituted "Hospital" for "hospital", inserted "or nursing home care under section 620 of this title", and substituted the period for semicolon at end.

Subsec. (a)(4), (5). Pub. L. 100–322, §104(b)(2), (3), substituted "Hospital" for "hospital" and the period for semicolon at end.

Subsec. (a)(6). Pub. L. 100–322, §104(b)(2), (4), substituted "Diagnostic" for "diagnostic" and the period for "; or".

Subsec. (a)(7). Pub. L. 100–322, §104(b)(2), substituted "Outpatient" for "outpatient".

Subsec. (a)(8). Pub. L. 100–322, §104(a)(2), added par. (8).

Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 100–322, §112(a), added subsec. (c).

1986-Subsec. (a)(5). Pub. L. 99–272, §19012(c)(5)(A), made conforming amendment to Pub. L. 99–166, §102(b)(1). See 1985 Amendment note below.

1985-Subsec. (a)(5). Pub. L. 99–166, §102(b)(1), as amended by Pub. L. 99–272, §19012(c)(5)(A), inserted "(other than the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico)" after "in a State" and substituted "contiguous States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico" for "contiguous States, but the authority of the Administrator under this paragraph with respect to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico shall expire on September 30, 1988, and until such date the Administrator may, if necessary to prevent hardship, waive the applicability to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico of the restrictions in this paragraph with respect to hospital patient loads and the incidence of the furnishing of medical services".

Effective Date of 2018 Amendment

Pub. L. 115–251, title II, §201(b), Sept. 29, 2018, 132 Stat. 3172 , provided that: "The amendments made by subsection (a) [amending this section] shall take effect on the effective date specified in section 101(b) of the John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka, and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–182) [set out below]."

Pub. L. 115–182, title I, §101(b), June 6, 2018, 132 Stat. 1403 , provided that: "Section 1703 of title 38, United States Code, as amended by subsection (a), shall take effect on the later of-

"(1) the date that is 30 days after the date on which the Secretary of Veterans Affairs submits the report required under section 101(q)(2) of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–146; 38 U.S.C. 1701 note); or

"(2) the date on which the Secretary promulgates regulations pursuant to subsection (c) [set out as a Regulations note below]."

Effective Date of 1988 Amendment

Pub. L. 100–687, div. B, title XV, §1503(b), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4134 , provided that: "The amendments made by subsection (a)(1) [amending this section] shall apply with respect to the furnishing of medical services by contract to veterans who apply to the Veterans' Administration for medical services after June 30, 1988."

Pub. L. 100–322, title I, §101(i), May 20, 1988, 102 Stat. 492 , provided that: "The amendments made by this section [amending this section and sections 612 and 617 [now 1712 and 1717] of this title] shall apply with respect to the furnishing of medical services to veterans who apply for such services after June 30, 1988."

Effective Date of 1985 Amendment

Pub. L. 99–166, title I, §102(b)(1), Dec. 3, 1985, 99 Stat. 943 , as amended by Pub. L. 99–272, title XIX, §19012(c)(5)(A), Apr. 7, 1986, 100 Stat. 382 , provided that the amendment made by that section is effective Oct. 1, 1988.

Regulations

Pub. L. 115–182, title I, §101(c), June 6, 2018, 132 Stat. 1403 , provided that:

"(1) In general.-Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act [June 6, 2018], the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall promulgate regulations to carry out section 1703 of title 38, United States Code, as amended by subsection (a) of this section.

"(2) Updates.-

"(A) Periodic.-Before promulgating the regulations required under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall provide to the appropriate committees of Congress periodic updates to confirm the progress of the Secretary toward developing such regulations.

"(B) First update.-The first update under subparagraph (A) shall occur no later than 120 days from the date of the enactment of this Act.

"(C) Appropriate committees of congress defined.-In this paragraph, the term 'appropriate committees of Congress' means-

"(i) the Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; and

"(ii) the Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives."

Continuity of Existing Agreements

Pub. L. 115–182, title I, §101(d), June 6, 2018, 132 Stat. 1403 , provided that:

"(1) In general.-Notwithstanding section 1703 of title 38, United States Code, as amended by subsection (a), the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall continue all contracts, memorandums of understanding, memorandums of agreements, and other arrangements that were in effect on the day before the date of the enactment of this Act [June 6, 2018] between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Indian and Alaska Native health care systems as established under the terms of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Indian Health Service Memorandum of Understanding, signed October 1, 2010, the National Reimbursement Agreement, signed December 5, 2012, arrangements under section 405 of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (25 U.S.C. 1645), and agreements entered into under sections 102 and 103 of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–146) [38 U.S.C. 1701 note].

"(2) Modifications.-Paragraph (1) shall not be construed to prohibit the Secretary and the parties to the contracts, memorandums of understanding, memorandums of agreements, and other arrangements described in such paragraph from making such changes to such contracts, memorandums of understanding, memorandums of agreements, and other arrangements as may be otherwise authorized pursuant to other provisions of law or the terms of the contracts, memorandums of understanding, memorandums of agreements, and other arrangements."

Demonstration Projects on Alternatives for Expanding Care for Veterans in Rural Areas

Pub. L. 111–163, title III, §303, May 5, 2010, 124 Stat. 1149 , provided that:

"(a) In General.-The Secretary of Veterans Affairs may, through the Director of the Office of Rural Health, carry out demonstration projects to examine the feasibility and advisability of alternatives for expanding care for veterans in rural areas, which may include the following:

"(1) Establishing a partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate care for veterans in rural areas at critical access hospitals (as designated or certified under section 1820 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395i–4)).

"(2) Establishing a partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate care for veterans in rural areas at community health centers.

"(3) Expanding coordination between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service to expand care for Indian veterans.

"(b) Geographic Distribution.-The Secretary shall ensure that the demonstration projects carried out under subsection (a) are located at facilities that are geographically distributed throughout the United States.

"(c) Report.-Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act [May 5, 2010], the Secretary shall submit a report on the results of the demonstration projects carried out under subsection (a) to-

"(1) the Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; and

"(2) the Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.

"(d) Authorization of Appropriations.-There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $5,000,000 for fiscal year 2010 and each fiscal year thereafter."

Pilot Program of Enhanced Contract Care Authority for Health Care Needs of Veterans in Highly Rural Areas

Pub. L. 110–387, title IV, §403, Oct. 10, 2008, 122 Stat. 4124 , as amended by Pub. L. 111–163, title III, §308, May 5, 2010, 124 Stat. 1155 ; Pub. L. 113–146, title I, §104, Aug. 7, 2014, 128 Stat. 1766 ; Pub. L. 113–175, title IV, §409(h), Sept. 26, 2014, 128 Stat. 1908 ; Pub. L. 114–223, div. A, title II, §242, Sept. 29, 2016, 130 Stat. 884 , provided that:

"(a) Pilot Program Required.-

"(1) In general.-The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall conduct a pilot program under which the Secretary provides covered health services to covered veterans through qualifying non-Department of Veterans Affairs health care providers.

"(2) Commencement.-The Secretary shall commence the conduct of the pilot program on the date that is 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act [Oct. 10, 2008].

"(3) Duration.-A veteran may receive health services under this section during the period beginning on the date specified in paragraph (2) and ending on September 30, 2017.

"(4) Program locations.-The Secretary shall carry out the pilot program at locations in the following Veterans Integrated Service Networks (and such other locations as the Secretary considers appropriate):

"(A) Veterans Integrated Service Network 1.

"(B) Veterans Integrated Service Network 6.

"(C) Veterans Integrated Service Network 15.

"(D) Veterans Integrated Service Network 18.

"(E) Veterans Integrated Service Network 19.

"(b) Covered Veterans.-For purposes of the pilot program under this section, a covered veteran is any veteran who-

"(1) is-

"(A) enrolled in the system of patient enrollment established under section 1705(a) of title 38, United States Code, as of August 1, 2014; or

"(B) eligible for health care under section 1710(e)(3) of such title; and

"(2) resides in a location that is-

"(A) more than 60 minutes driving distance from the nearest Department health care facility providing primary care services, if the veteran is seeking such services;

"(B) more than 120 minutes driving distance from the nearest Department health care facility providing acute hospital care, if the veteran is seeking such care; or

"(C) more than 240 minutes driving distance from the nearest Department health care facility providing tertiary care, if the veteran is seeking such care.

"(c) Covered Health Services.-For purposes of the pilot program under this section, a covered health service with respect to a covered veteran is any hospital care, medical service, rehabilitative service, or preventative health service that is authorized to be provided by the Secretary to the veteran under chapter 17 of title 38, United States Code, or any other provision of law.

"(d) Qualifying Non-Department Health Care Providers.-For purposes of the pilot program under this section, an entity or individual is a qualifying non-Department health care provider of a covered health service if the Secretary determines that the entity or individual is qualified to furnish such service to veterans under the pilot program.

"(e) Election.-A covered veteran seeking to be provided covered health services under the pilot program under this section shall submit to the Secretary an application therefor in such form, and containing such information as the Secretary shall specify for purposes of the pilot program.

"(f) Provision of Services Through Contract.-The Secretary shall provide covered health services to veterans under the pilot program under this section through contracts with qualifying non-Department health care providers for the provision of such services.

"(g) Exchange of Medical Information.-In conducting the pilot program under this section, the Secretary shall develop and utilize a functional capability to provide for the exchange of appropriate medical information between the Department and non-Department health care providers providing health services under the pilot program.

"(h) Appointments.-In carrying out the pilot program under this section, the Secretary shall ensure that medical appointments for covered veterans-

"(1) are scheduled not later than 5 days after the date on which the appointment is requested; and

"(2) occur not later than 30 days after such date.

"(i) Outreach.-The Secretary shall ensure that covered veterans are informed about the pilot program under this section.

"(j) Use of Existing Contracts.-Notwithstanding any provision of law relating to the use of competitive procedures in entering into contracts, in carrying out the pilot program under this section after the date of the enactment of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 [Aug. 7, 2014], the Secretary shall make use of contracts entered into under this section before such date or may enter into new contracts.

"(k) Reports.-Not later than the 30 days after the end of each year in which the pilot program under this section is conducted, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee of Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives a report which includes-

"(1) the assessment of the Secretary of the pilot program during the preceding year, including its cost, volume, quality, patient satisfaction, benefit to veterans, and such other findings and conclusions with respect to pilot program as the Secretary considers appropriate; and

"(2) such recommendations as the Secretary considers appropriate regarding-

"(A) the continuation of the pilot program;

"(B) extension of the pilot program to other or all Veterans Integrated Service Networks of the Department; and

"(C) making the pilot program permanent."

Ratification of Medical Services Contracts

Section 1503(c) of Pub. L. 100–687 ratified actions of the Administrator in contracting with facilities other than Veterans' Administration facilities for furnishing medical services incident to treatment of certain veterans receiving hospital, nursing home, or domiciliary care, who applied for such services during the period beginning July 1, 1988, and ending Nov. 18, 1988.

Puerto Rico Contract Care; Limitation on Incurring of Obligations

Pub. L. 99–166, title I, §102(b)(2)–(5), Dec. 3, 1985, 99 Stat. 943 , as amended by Pub. L. 99–272, title XIX, §19012(c)(5)(B), Apr. 7, 1986, 100 Stat. 382 , limited Administrator's authority to incur obligations for medical services for veterans residing in Puerto Rico during fiscal years 1986 to 1988.