VA Begins Testing 'Integrated Care' Program With CVS Pharmacy

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Veterans Administration, the VA and CVS have partnered for a test program that will have the pharmacy chain's MinuteClinic urgent care centers treating some veterans for minor injuries and ailments.

Veterans would not be bound by current restrictions under the VA's Choice program, which limits outside care to those who have been waiting more than 30 days for an appointment or have to drive more than 40 miles to a facility.

The agreement may help to make it easier for veterans to access care for low-level complaints without having to work through the VA's notoriously lengthy appointment-setting process.

Phoenix VA HCS nurses will be allowed to refer Veterans to MinuteClinic but only for the management of minor illnesses and injuries.

Shulkin has made clear he'd like a broader collaboration of "integrated care" nationwide between the VA and private sector in which veterans have wider access to private doctors. "Our No. 1 priority is getting veterans access to care when and where they need it", said Baligh Yehia, MD, the deputy undersecretary for health for community care, VA. "Congress has once again demonstrated that the country stands firmly united when it comes to supporting our nation's Veterans", Shulkin said at the time.

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Through the website, patients can also find out what veterans have to say about access to care.

In 2014, then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned after it was revealed that officials in Phoenix falsified reports about the wait times veterans faced at VA clinics. "We're looking forward to working with the Phoenix VA Health Care System team to ensure that their patients have additional options for high-quality acute care at times and locations that are convenient for them".

The VA's new Access and Quality Tool will offer veterans more information on patient wait times and quality of care of VA facilities compared to local hospitals.

Alec Siegel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. His passions include: gooey chocolate chips, black coffee, mountains, the Animal Kingdom in general, and John Lennon.

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