[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 176 (Monday, September 12, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 62631-62632]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-21830]



38 CFR Part 17

RIN 2900-AP68

Telephone Enrollment in the VA Healthcare System

AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) adopts as final, 
without change, an interim final rule amending its medical regulations. 
Specifically, this rule allows veterans to complete applications for 
health care enrollment by providing application information, agreeing 
to VA's provisions regarding copayment liability and assignment of 
third-party insurance benefits, and attesting to the accuracy and 
authenticity of the information provided to a VA employee over the 
phone. This action makes it easier for veterans to apply to enroll and 
speeds VA processing of applications.

DATES: Effective Date: This rule is effective on September 12, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mathew J. Eitutis, Acting Director, 
Member Services 3401 SW 21st St. Building 9 Topeka, KS 66604; 785-925-
0605. (This is not a toll-free number.)

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On March 16, 2016, VA published an interim 
final rule amending Sec.  17.36(d)(1) of title 38, Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR). 81 FR 13994. The amendment allows veterans to apply 
for enrollment in the VA healthcare system by telephone; in particular, 
it allows veterans to consent over the phone to pay any copayments the 
law requires for treatment or services and to assign insurance benefits 
to VA.
    VA invited interested persons to comment on the interim final rule 
on or before May 16, 2016. We received two comments. One commenter 
expressed concern over medications provided to veterans with overseas 
service in the 1970s. The other sought VA assistance with a claim for 
VA benefits. Both of these comments are outside the scope of this 
rulemaking. We are, therefore, making no changes based on those 
    Based on the rationale in the interim final rule and in this final 
rule, VA is adopting the interim final rule as final with no changes.

Administrative Procedure Act

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs determined there was good cause 
under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to publish this rule without prior opportunity 
for public comment. The Secretary concluded that failure to authorize 
verbal applications as soon as possible was contrary to the public 
interest because it prolonged delays in processing applications for 
enrollment in the VA healthcare system. We dispensed with the 30-day 
delay requirement for the effective date of a rule for good cause under 
5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). We anticipated that this regulation would be 
uncontroversial and believed that any further delay in allowing VA to 
complete applications by telephone would be contrary to the public 

Effect of Rulemaking

    The Code of Federal Regulations, as revised by this final 
rulemaking, represents the exclusive legal authority on this subject. 
No contrary rules or procedures are authorized. All VA guidance must be 
read to conform with this interim final rulemaking if possible or, if 
not possible, such guidance is superseded by this rulemaking.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Although this final rule contains provisions constituting 
collections of information, at 38 CFR 17.36(d)(1), under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3521), no new or revised 
collections of information are associated with this final rule. It 
amends an approved collection by allowing a new method for veterans to 
submit the requested information, but this change does not affect the 
burden on the public under the approved collection. The information 
collection requirements for 38 CFR 17.36(d)(1) are currently approved 
by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and have been assigned OMB 
control number 2900-0091.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Secretary hereby certifies that this final rule does not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 
as they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601-
612. This final rule directly affects only individuals and does not 
directly affect small entities. Therefore, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 605(b), 
this rulemaking is exempt from the initial and final regulatory 
flexibility analysis requirements of 5 U.S.C. 603 and 604.

Executive Order 12866 and 13563

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, when 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, and other advantages; distributive impacts; 
and equity). Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory 
Review) emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and 
benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility. 
Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) defines a 
``significant regulatory action,'' requiring review by OMB, unless OMB 
waives such review, as ``any regulatory action that is likely to result 
in a rule that may: (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 
million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a 
sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the 
environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal 
governments or communities; (2) Create a serious inconsistency or 
otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; 
(3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user 
fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or

[[Page 62632]]

the principles set forth in this Executive Order.''
    The economic, interagency, budgetary, legal, and policy 
implications of this interim final rule have been examined, and it has 
been determined not to be a significant regulatory action under 
Executive Order 12866. VA's impact analysis can be found as a 
supporting document at http://www.regulations.gov, usually within 48 
hours after the rulemaking document is published. Additionally, a copy 
of the rulemaking and its impact analysis are available on VA's Web 
site at http://www.va.gov/orpm/, by following the link for ``VA 
Regulations Published From FY 2004 Through Fiscal Year to Date.''

Unfunded Mandates

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires, at 2 U.S.C. 
1532, that agencies prepare an assessment of anticipated costs and 
benefits before issuing any rule that may result in the expenditure by 
State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the 
private sector, of $100 million or more (adjusted annually for 
inflation) in any one year. This final rule has no such effect on 
State, local, and tribal governments, or on the private sector.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

    The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance numbers and titles for 
the programs affected by this document are 64.007, Blind Rehabilitation 
Centers; 64.008, Veterans Domiciliary Care; 64.009, Veterans Medical 
Care Benefits; 64.010, Veterans Nursing Home Care; 64.011, Veterans 
Dental Care; 64.012, Veterans Prescription Service; 64.013, Veterans 
Prosthetic Appliances; 64.014, Veterans State Domiciliary Care; 64.015, 
Veterans State Nursing Home Care; 64.018, Sharing Specialized Medical 
Resources; 64.019, Veterans Rehabilitation Alcohol and Drug Dependence; 
64.022, Veterans Home Based Primary Care; and 64.024, VA Homeless 
Providers Grant and Per Diem Program.

Signing Authority

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or designee, approved this 
document and authorized the undersigned to sign and submit the document 
to the Office of the Federal Register for publication electronically as 
an official document of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Gina S. 
Farrisee, Deputy Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, 
approved this document on September 6, 2016, for publication.

List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 17

    Administrative practice and procedure, Alcohol abuse, Alcoholism, 
Claims, Day care, Dental health, Drug abuse, Government contracts, 
Grant programs-health, Grant programs-veterans, Health care, Health 
facilities, Health professions, Health records, Homeless, Medical and 
dental schools, Medical devices, Medical research, Mental health 
programs, Nursing homes, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 
Travel and transportation expenses, Veterans.

For the reasons set out in the preamble, the interim final rule 
published in the Federal Register at 81 FR 13994 on March 16, 2016, is 
adopted as final without change.

    Dated: September 6, 2016.
Jeffrey Martin
Office Program Manager, Office of Regulation Policy & Management, 
Office of the Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs.
[FR Doc. 2016-21830 Filed 9-9-16; 8:45 am]