The Clinician’s Guide to Answering the Service-Connected Classification Question
A condition is only service connected if it has been rated as an adjudicated service connected disability through the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).
OBJECTIVES This presentation will provide staff with information that will aid in correctly designating a visit as service connected (SC) or non service connected (NSC).
Visit Related To: Service Connected Condition Combat Vet (Combat Related) Agent Orange Exposure Ionizing Radiation Exposure Environmental Contaminants MST Head and/or Neck Cancer The encounter form or computer screen will display: Yes No Is treatment for a service connected condition? It is the responsibility of the provider to mark the encounter based on their clinical judgment and eligibility information as: * service connected or *non service connected
Why the SC/NSC determination is so important? • Monitored by: • Congress • Office of Management and Budget (OMB) • Top VHA Officials • Third Party Payers • Veterans (patients) • VHA requires this data for: • Utilization studies • Research • Budgeting • Business Office operations
BILLING REQUIREMENT • Title 38 legislation requires VHA to bill for care provided for a condition that is not service connected or a special authority. • Bills are processed for non service connected care, which includes adjunct and secondary conditions.
What is a service-connected condition? • “Service-connected” refers to a VBA decision that a veteran’s illness or injury was incurred in or aggravated by military service. • VBA establishes the degree of disability for each service connected condition. • A veteran may have more than one adjudicated service connected condition. • If the primary rated condition worsens over time, encourage patient to have VBA complete a reassessment of rated disabilities.
What does the SC % rating represent? • The percentage ratings represent as far as can practically be determined • The average impairment in earning capacity resulting from such diseases and • Injuries and/or their residual conditions in civil occupations.
Other Encounter Classifications • If applicable the provider should also indicate if the encounter is for care due to (special authorities): • Agent Orange exposure • Ionizing Radiation exposure • Environmental Contaminants • Military Sexual Trauma • Head and/or Neck Cancer • Combat Service • SHAD (Shipboard Hazard and Defense)
Service-Connected billing • Treatment provided for service connected conditions or special authorities is not billable • Exception • Workers compensation or tort feasor claims for injury of service-connected disability (Notify your facility revenue office when you encounter a patient with a work related injury/condition.) Reference: M-1, Part I Chapter 15, section 15.02 b (5). VA can bill: "Veterans for service-connected disabilities when it is medically determined that re-injury or aggravation of the service-connected disability is due to a compensable occupational injury or disease or the negligence or other legal wrong of a third person.”
IMPORTANT • “Service connected” does not mean that all treatment a veteran receives is considered to be service connected • The treating clinician is responsible for the determination based on accurate service connected information within the patient record, not just from what the patient states, for each patient encounter and/or medication prescription.
Where to find information about the veteran’s service connection • Electronic Encounter Form • Consolidated Health Record • Computerized Patient Record System • Patient Interview • Appointment List • Patient Inquiry • Appointment Management • Rating Decision • Registration and eligibility staff
VBARating Codes for Service connected Conditions • Vague Codes • What Do They Mean?? • Where do I find more information? • The best source to clarify the patient’s rated condition is the individual rating decision for the patient. • For general information about ratings, codes, and percentages visit the VBA website: http://vbaw.vba.va.gov/bl/21/publicat/regs/Part4/toc.htm
How to make a SC/NSC determination • The clinician documents all identified conditions and treatment given during an encounter. (These may be different than what the veteran was scheduled). • Mark the encounter form with the appropriate diagnostic and procedure codes. Remember: the clinical documentation MUST support your choices.
How to make a SC/NSC determination • Determine if the condition for which the veteran is treated is specifically for any service connected condition(s) • If it is, mark the encounter as service connected. • If it is not, mark the encounter as Non service connected.
Medications • Medications for conditions adjunct/secondary (associated with) or aggravated by the service connected rated conditions are billable. • This includes drugs that may prevent co-morbid disease progression and/or treat secondary or adjunct conditions. • If the medication is for an adjunct/secondary condition, mark the prescription as Non service connected. • If the medication is for an adjudicated service connected condition or special , mark the prescription as service connected.
Adjunct Conditions • Remember If the treatment provided was for a condition which you consider to be adjunct/secondary (associated with) or aggravated by the service-connected condition(s), you MUST answer NO to the service connected classification question!
Frequently Asked Questions Q. Do veterans receive free care at the VA Medical Center? A. Not all veterans. • Most veterans have a Medication co-pay • Certain priority patients by law through income-based determinations (Means Test) must make co-payments
Frequently Asked Questions Q. If I don’t mark the encounter as service-connected, will the veteran be eligible for the service? A. Yes. Public Law 104-262, The Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996, created a medical benefits package which is available to all enrolled veterans.
Frequently Asked Questions Q.If a patient is 100% service connected for a specific condition, are all their encounters service connected? A. No. The percentage (%) of service connection pertains only to the rated condition. If the encounter was for a non service connected condition, it would not be considered a service connected encounter. If a patient is 0% or 100%, they are still rated for that specific condition.
Frequently Asked Questions Q. Are encounters marked as AO, EC, MST, CV etc…(special authorities) billable? A. No * If check-out under special authorities, such as Title 38 USC 1710(e), the encounters do not trigger 1st party charges nor the Integrated Billing package.
Frequently Asked Questions Q. Must the veteran’s private insurance company be billed for conditions that are adjunct or secondary to the service-connected condition? A. Yes. Current interpretation of the law: • Adjunct condition associated with or aggravating a disease or condition which is service connected • Secondary condition has been caused or is the result of a service connected condition Adjunct and secondary conditions are not service connected per interpretation of the law and should be billed to the insurance carrier
Frequently Asked Questions • If a veteran is treated for both a service connected and non service connected condition at the same visit, should the provider, mark the encounter as service-connected? • A. Yes. If the primary diagnosis is service connected, the visit is marked service connected. If the primary diagnosis is not service connected and treatment was provided for a secondary diagnosis that is service connected (excluding mention of stable chronic conditions and routine medication refills), the visit is marked service connected.
Do You Have Other Questions about the SC/NSC Determination Process? Contact your local Revenue Office for assistance.