Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Veterans Affairs Provider Agreements on Way to Becoming Law

Dana Halvorson

On May 23, 2018, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive Veterans Affairs (VA) package (the VA Mission Act of 2018 ), which was recently approved by the House of Representatives, that authorizes VA provider agreements for extended care providers, including nursing centers.  AHCA and our members have been advocating for years for VA provider agreements.  These agreements are supported by the VA yet required new statutory authorization.  The White House has signaled that President Trump will sign this legislation into law.

VA provider agreements allow our centers to care for veterans in their communities or in close proximity to their families and support system.  Our centers already meet very strict compliance guidelines under the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  Adding more regulations on top of the existing Medicare and Medicaid regulation is inefficient, adds cost and takes staff time away from caring for veterans at the bedside.  It is long-standing policy that participation in Medicare or Medicaid does not make providers federal contractors.  However, if a provider currently has VA patients, they are considered a federal contractor and therefore must comply with statutes such as the Service Contract Act.  The Office of Federal Contracting Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has administered onerous reporting requirements and regulations, beyond those required by Medicare and Medicaid rules, which have dissuaded nursing care centers from admitting VA patients.  The result has been limited long term care options for veterans in their local communities.  Our veterans should not have to choose between obtaining the long term care services they need and remaining near loved ones in their community.  Conversely, the same centers contracting with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are not subject to the OFCCP regulations.  

Provisions in the VA Mission Act will help remove some of the existing red tape that may prevent providers from being able to provide care to veterans.  The number of facilities able to serve veterans will increase in most areas once qualified providers are able to enter into VA Provider Agreements, broadening options for veterans who need both nursing center care and home and community-based services.  We know that many members are eager to enter into VA provider agreements.  VA staff estimates that it will take at least a year to implement these agreements, pending the issuance of regulations.  AHCA will offer a webinar with officials from the VA in the near future to provide members an opportunity to ask questions about how these agreements might be structured.  Once this webinar date and time is finalized, we will send information to our members.  In the meantime, please contact Dana Halvorson , AHCA's Senior Director of Not for Profit & Constituent Services with questions or comments you'd like to see addressed on the webinar. 

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