TITLE 38 - US CODE - SUBCHAPTER I - GENERAL

38 USC 1701 - Definitions

For the purposes of this chapter
(1) The term disability means a disease, injury, or other physical or mental defect.
(2) The term veteran of any war includes any veteran awarded the Medal of Honor.
(3) The term facilities of the Department means
(A) facilities over which the Secretary has direct jurisdiction;

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(B) Government facilities for which the Secretary contracts; and
(C) public or private facilities at which the Secretary provides recreational activities for patients receiving care under section 1710 of this title.
(4) The term non-Department facilities means facilities other than Department facilities.
(5) The term hospital care includes
(A) 
(i) medical services rendered in the course of the hospitalization of any veteran, and
(ii)  travel and incidental expenses pursuant to the provisions of section 111 of this title;
(B) such mental health services, consultation, professional counseling, and training for the members of the immediate family or legal guardian of a veteran, or the individual in whose household such veteran certifies an intention to live, as may be essential to the effective treatment and rehabilitation of a veteran or dependent or survivor of a veteran receiving care under the last sentence of section 1781 (b) of this title; and
(C) 
(i) medical services rendered in the course of the hospitalization of a dependent or survivor of a veteran receiving care under the last sentence of section 1781 (b) of this title, and

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(ii)  travel and incidental expenses for such dependent or survivor under the terms and conditions set forth in section 111 of this title.
(6) The term medical services includes, in addition to medical examination, treatment, and rehabilitative services, the following:
(A) Surgical services.
(B) Dental services and appliances as described in sections 1710 and 1712 of this title.
(C) Optometric and podiatric services.
(D) Preventive health services.
(E) In the case of a person otherwise receiving care or services under this chapter
(i) wheelchairs, artificial limbs, trusses, and similar appliances;
(ii) special clothing made necessary by the wearing of prosthetic appliances; and
(iii) such other supplies or services as the Secretary determines to be reasonable and necessary.
(F) Travel and incidental expenses pursuant to section 111 of this title.
(7) The term domiciliary care includes necessary medical services and travel and incidental expenses pursuant to the provisions of section 111 of this title.
(8) The term rehabilitative services means such professional, counseling, and guidance services and treatment programs as are necessary to restore, to the maximum extent possible, the physical, mental, and psychological functioning of an ill or disabled person.
(9) The term preventive health services means
(A) periodic medical and dental examinations;
(B) patient health education (including nutrition education);
(C) maintenance of drug use profiles, patient drug monitoring, and drug utilization education;
(D) mental health preventive services;
(E) substance abuse prevention measures;
(F) immunizations against infectious disease;
(G) prevention of musculoskeletal deformity or other gradually developing disabilities of a metabolic or degenerative nature;
(H) genetic counseling concerning inheritance of genetically determined diseases;
(I) routine vision testing and eye care services;
(J) periodic reexamination of members of likely target populations (high-risk groups) for selected diseases and for functional decline of sensory organs, together with attendant appropriate remedial intervention; and
(K) such other health-care services as the Secretary may determine to be necessary to provide effective and economical preventive health care.
(10) 
(A) During the period beginning on November 30, 1999, and ending on December 31, 2008, the term medical services includes noninstitutional extended care services.
(B) For the purposes of subparagraph (A), the term noninstitutional extended care services means such alternatives to institutional extended care which the Secretary may furnish
(i)  directly,
(ii)  by contract, or
(iii)  (through provision of case management) by another provider or payor.

38 USC 1702 - Presumption relating to psychosis

For the purposes of this chapter, any veteran of World War II, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam era, or the Persian Gulf War who developed an active psychosis
(1)  within two years after discharge or release from the active military, naval, or air service, and
(2)  before July 26, 1949, in the case of a veteran of World War II, before February 1, 1957, in the case of a veteran of the Korean conflict, before May 8, 1977, in the case of a Vietnam era veteran, or before the end of the two-year period beginning on the last day of the Persian Gulf War, in the case of a veteran of the Persian Gulf War, shall be deemed to have incurred such disability in the active military, naval, or air service.

38 USC 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 100322; 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, 2008.

38 USC 1704 - Preventive health services: annual report

Not later than October 31 each year, the Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Veterans Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives a report on preventive health services. Each such report shall include the following:
(1) A description of the programs and activities of the Department with respect to preventive health services during the preceding fiscal year, including a description of the following:
(A) The programs conducted by the Department
(i) to educate veterans with respect to health promotion and disease prevention; and
(ii) to provide veterans with preventive health screenings and other clinical services, with such description setting forth the types of resources used by the Department to conduct such screenings and services and the number of veterans reached by such screenings and services.
(B) The means by which the Secretary addressed the specific preventive health services needs of particular groups of veterans (including veterans with service-connected disabilities, elderly veterans, low-income veterans, women veterans, institutionalized veterans, and veterans who are at risk for mental illness).
(C) The manner in which the provision of such services was coordinated with the activities of the Medical and Prosthetic Research Service of the Department and the National Center for Preventive Health.
(D) The manner in which the provision of such services was integrated into training programs of the Department, including initial and continuing medical training of medical students, residents, and Department staff.
(E) The manner in which the Department participated in cooperative preventive health efforts with other governmental and private entities (including State and local health promotion offices and not-for-profit organizations).
(F) The specific research carried out by the Department with respect to the long-term relationships among screening activities, treatment, and morbidity and mortality outcomes.
(G) The cost effectiveness of such programs and activities, including an explanation of the means by which the costs and benefits (including the quality of life of veterans who participate in such programs and activities) of such programs and activities are measured.
(2) A specific description of research activities on preventive health services carried out during that period using employees, funds, equipment, office space, or other support services of the Department, with such description setting forth
(A) the source of funds for those activities;
(B) the articles or publications (including the authors of the articles and publications) in which those activities are described;
(C) the Federal, State, or local governmental entity or private entity, if any, with which such activities were carried out; and
(D) the clinical, research, or staff education projects for which funding applications were submitted (including the source of the funds applied for) and upon which a decision is pending or was denied.
(3) An accounting of the expenditure of funds during that period by the National Center for Preventive Health under section 7318 of this title.

38 USC 1705 - Management of health care: patient enrollment system

(a) In managing the provision of hospital care and medical services under section 1710 (a) of this title, the Secretary, in accordance with regulations the Secretary shall prescribe, shall establish and operate a system of annual patient enrollment. The Secretary shall manage the enrollment of veterans in accordance with the following priorities, in the order listed:
(1) Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 50 percent or greater.
(2) Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 30 percent or 40 percent.
(3) Veterans who are former prisoners of war or who were awarded the Purple Heart, veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 10 percent or 20 percent, and veterans described in subparagraphs (B) and (C) of section 1710 (a)(2) of this title.
(4) Veterans who are in receipt of increased pension based on a need of regular aid and attendance or by reason of being permanently housebound and other veterans who are catastrophically disabled.
(5) Veterans not covered by paragraphs (1) through (4) who are unable to defray the expenses of necessary care as determined under section 1722 (a) of this title.
(6) All other veterans eligible for hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care under section 1710 (a)(2) of this title.
(7) Veterans described in section 1710 (a)(3) of this title who are eligible for treatment as a low-income family under section 3(b) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437a (b)) for the area in which such veterans reside, regardless of whether such veterans are treated as single person families under paragraph (3)(A) of such section 3 (b) or as families under paragraph (3)(B) of such section 3 (b).
(8) Veterans described in section 1710 (a)(3) of this title who are not covered by paragraph (7).
(b) In the design of an enrollment system under subsection (a), the Secretary
(1) shall ensure that the system will be managed in a manner to ensure that the provision of care to enrollees is timely and acceptable in quality;
(2) may establish additional priorities within each priority group specified in subsection (a), as the Secretary determines necessary; and
(3) may provide for exceptions to the specified priorities where dictated by compelling medical reasons.
(c) 
(1) The Secretary may not provide hospital care or medical services to a veteran under paragraph (2) or (3) of section 1710 (a) of this title unless the veteran enrolls in the system of patient enrollment established by the Secretary under subsection (a).
(2) The Secretary shall provide hospital care and medical services under section 1710 (a)(1) of this title, and under subparagraph (B) of section 1710 (a)(2) of this title, for the 12-month period following such veterans discharge or release from service, to any veteran referred to in such sections for a disability specified in the applicable subparagraph of such section, notwithstanding the failure of the veteran to enroll in the system of patient enrollment referred to in subsection (a) of this section.

38 USC 1706 - Management of health care: other requirements

(a) In managing the provision of hospital care and medical services under section 1710 (a) of this title, the Secretary shall, to the extent feasible, design, establish and manage health care programs in such a manner as to promote cost-effective delivery of health care services in the most clinically appropriate setting.
(b) 
(1) In managing the provision of hospital care and medical services under such section, the Secretary shall ensure that the Department (and each geographic service area of the Veterans Health Administration) maintains its capacity to provide for the specialized treatment and rehabilitative needs of disabled veterans (including veterans with spinal cord dysfunction, blindness, amputations, and mental illness) within distinct programs or facilities of the Department that are dedicated to the specialized needs of those veterans in a manner that
(A)  affords those veterans reasonable access to care and services for those specialized needs, and
(B)  ensures that overall capacity of the Department (and each geographic service area of the Veterans Health Administration) to provide such services is not reduced below the capacity of the Department, nationwide, to provide those services, as of October 9, 1996. The Secretary shall carry out this paragraph in consultation with the Advisory Committee on Prosthetics and Special Disabilities Programs and the Committee on Care of Severely Chronically Mentally Ill Veterans.
(2) For purposes of paragraph (1), the capacity of the Department (and each geographic service area of the Veterans Health Administration) to provide for the specialized treatment and rehabilitative needs of disabled veterans (including veterans with spinal cord dysfunction, traumatic brain injury, blindness, prosthetics and sensory aids, and mental illness) within distinct programs or facilities shall be measured for seriously mentally ill veterans as follows (with all such data to be provided by geographic service area and totaled nationally):
(A) For mental health intensive community-based care, the number of discrete intensive care teams constituted to provide such intensive services to seriously mentally ill veterans and the number of veterans provided such care.
(B) For opioid substitution programs, the number of patients treated annually and the amounts expended.
(C) For dual-diagnosis patients, the number treated annually and the amounts expended.
(D) For substance-use disorder programs
(i) the number of beds (whether hospital, nursing home, or other designated beds) employed and the average bed occupancy of such beds;
(ii) the percentage of unique patients admitted directly to outpatient care during the fiscal year who had two or more additional visits to specialized outpatient care within 30 days of their first visit, with a comparison from 1996 until the date of the report;
(iii) the percentage of unique inpatients with substance-use disorder diagnoses treated during the fiscal year who had one or more specialized clinic visits within three days of their index discharge, with a comparison from 1996 until the date of the report;
(iv) the percentage of unique outpatients seen in a facility or geographic service area during the fiscal year who had one or more specialized clinic visits, with a comparison from 1996 until the date of the report; and
(v) the rate of recidivism of patients at each specialized clinic in each geographic service area of the Veterans Health Administration.
(E) For mental health programs, the number and type of staff that are available at each facility to provide specialized mental health treatment, including satellite clinics, outpatient programs, and community-based outpatient clinics, with a comparison from 1996 to the date of the report.
(F) The number of such clinics providing mental health care, the number and type of mental health staff at each such clinic, and the type of mental health programs at each such clinic.
(G) The total amounts expended for mental health during the fiscal year.
(3) For purposes of paragraph (1), the capacity of the Department (and each geographic service area of the Veterans Health Administration) to provide for the specialized treatment and rehabilitative needs of disabled veterans within distinct programs or facilities shall be measured for veterans with spinal cord dysfunction, traumatic brain injury, blindness, or prosthetics and sensory aids as follows (with all such data to be provided by geographic service area and totaled nationally):
(A) For spinal cord injury and dysfunction specialized centers and for blind rehabilitation specialized centers, the number of staffed beds and the number of full-time equivalent employees assigned to provide care at such centers.
(B) For prosthetics and sensory aids, the annual amount expended.
(C) For traumatic brain injury, the number of patients treated annually and the amounts expended.
(4) In carrying out paragraph (1), the Secretary may not use patient outcome data as a substitute for, or the equivalent of, compliance with the requirement under that paragraph for maintenance of capacity.
(5) 
(A) Not later than April 1 of each year through 2008, the Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Veterans Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives a report on the Secretarys compliance, by facility and by service-network, with the requirements of this subsection. Each such report shall include information on recidivism rates associated with substance-use disorder treatment.
(B) In preparing each report under subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall use standardized data and data definitions.
(C) Each report under subparagraph (A) shall be audited by the Inspector General of the Department, who shall submit to Congress a certification as to the accuracy of each such report.
(6) 
(A) To ensure compliance with paragraph (1), the Under Secretary for Health shall prescribe objective standards of job performance for employees in positions described in subparagraph (B) with respect to the job performance of those employees in carrying out the requirements of paragraph (1). Those job performance standards shall include measures of workload, allocation of resources, and quality-of-care indicators.
(B) Positions described in this subparagraph are positions in the Veterans Health Administration that have responsibility for allocating and managing resources applicable to the requirements of paragraph (1).
(C) The Under Secretary shall develop the job performance standards under subparagraph (A) in consultation with the Advisory Committee on Prosthetics and Special Disabilities Programs and the Committee on Care of Severely Chronically Mentally Ill Veterans.
(c) The Secretary shall ensure that each primary care health care facility of the Department develops and carries out a plan to provide mental health services, either through referral or direct provision of services, to veterans who require such services.

38 USC 1707 - Limitations

(a) Funds appropriated to carry out this chapter may not be used for purposes that are inconsistent with the Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act of 1997 (42 U.S.C. 14401 et seq.).
(b) The Secretary may furnish sensori-neural aids only in accordance with guidelines prescribed by the Secretary.

38 USC 1708 - Temporary lodging

(a) The Secretary may furnish persons described in subsection (b) with temporary lodging in a Fisher house or other appropriate facility in connection with the examination, treatment, or care of a veteran under this chapter or, as provided for under subsection (e)(5), in connection with benefits administered under this title.
(b) Persons to whom the Secretary may provide lodging under subsection (a) are the following:
(1) A veteran who must travel a significant distance to receive care or services under this title.
(2) A member of the family of a veteran and others who accompany a veteran and provide the equivalent of familial support for such veteran.
(c) In this section, the term Fisher house means a housing facility that
(1) is located at, or in proximity to, a Department medical facility;
(2) is available for residential use on a temporary basis by patients of that facility and others described in subsection (b)(2); and
(3) is constructed by, and donated to the Secretary by, the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Armed Services Foundation.
(d) The Secretary may establish charges for providing lodging under this section. The proceeds from such charges shall be credited to the medical care account and shall be available until expended for the purposes of providing such lodging.
(e) The Secretary shall prescribe regulations to carry out this section. Such regulations shall include provisions
(1) limiting the duration of lodging provided under this section;
(2) establishing standards and criteria under which charges are established for such lodging under subsection (d);
(3) establishing criteria for persons considered to be accompanying a veteran under subsection (b)(2);
(4) establishing criteria for the use of the premises of temporary lodging facilities under this section; and
(5) establishing any other limitations, conditions, and priorities that the Secretary considers appropriate with respect to lodging under this section.