Health Care for Rural Veterans: The Example of Federally Qualified Health Centers [April 3, 2013] [open pdf - 617KB]
"The VA [Department of Veterans Affairs] is generally a provider--rather than a financer--of health care services; however, the VA has statutory authority to reimburse non-VA providers for services that are not readily available within the VA's integrated health care delivery system. VA facilities may consider contracting with outside providers to provide services to rural veterans. One type of facility that the VA has contracted with in the past are FQHCs [Federally Qualified Health Centers]. Although FQHCs are one type of facility that the VA can collaborate with, FQHCs may be candidates for VA collaboration because, as a condition of receiving a federal grant, they must meet certain requirements that include providing specific types of services, maintaining certain records, and meeting certain quality standards. These requirements, and the leverage that the federal government may have as a funding source, may facilitate VA-FQHC collaboration to provide care to veterans in rural areas. The report discusses four scenarios under which an FQHC might provide health care services to veterans: (1) without reimbursement from the VA, (2) under the VA's fee basis care program, (3) under a contract for specific services, or (4) as a contractor-operated community-based outpatient clinic (a type of outpatient VA facility). Each of these scenarios is discussed because the scenario used for collaboration affects the considerations that may arise."
CRS Report for Congress, R43029