Tuesday, July 18, 2017

U.S. Senate Report Language Includes Support for VA Provider Agreements

Dana Halvorson

Thanks to Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), the fiscal year (FY) 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill that was printed on July 13, 2017, includes language in support of VA provider agreements. The language, found on page 69 of the report, specifically notes that the Committee on Appropriations supports enabling the VA to enter into provider agreements with non-VA long-term care providers, including skilled nursing facilities, in lieu of the current onerous Federal contracting requirements. While this is not bill language (in statute), it certainly sends a strong message to the Administration. On July 13, the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill and report by voice vote.  It now goes to the full U.S. Senate for consideration.

As you may know from previous American Health Care Association (AHCA) correspondence, Medicare (Parts A and B) or Medicaid providers are not considered to be federal contractors.  However, if a provider currently has VA patients and a VA contract, they are considered to be a federal contractor. The Office of Federal Contracting Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has administered onerous reporting requirements and regulations, which have dissuaded nursing care centers from admitting VA patients.  This limits the care available to veterans needing long term care in their local communities. AHCA has been advocating for VA provider agreements that would make the VA requirements for providers the same as they are for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and waives the OFCCP federal contracting requirements.  AHCA will continue to work with Congressional champions, like Senator Hoeven, and the VA and others to get VA provider agreements across the finish line, and to take those with VA contracts out of the scope of being deemed a federal contractor.

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