UCAOA Continues Push for Veterans’ Access to Urgent Care
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On July 11, 2016, the UCAOA sent a letter to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs calling on Congress to include coverage of services provided in urgent care centers within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). In the letter, the UCAOA stated its strong support of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposal to improve VHA health care services by making changes to allow veterans access to urgent care centers. 

The VA has highlighted the essential need to partner with providers in communities across the country to meet the steep increase in demand for care for veterans. Specifically, UCAOA has argued that access to urgent care clinics can help reform the struggling VHA while reducing health care costs to the VA system overall.

According to a Health Affairs article, Up to 27 percent of all emergency department visits for conditions such as minor acute illnesses, strains, and fractures, could take place at urgent care centers and retail clinics at a potential cost savings of approximately $4.4 billion annually.

On June 30, 2016 the 12-member Commission on Care, appointed by President Obama and members of Congress, released a nearly 300-page report, making recommendations for transforming veterans’ health care. The Commission reported that the the most “public and glaring deficiency” of the VHA is access to care. The report also highlighted alternative and “lifestyle-oriented” venues for care, expressly mentioning “walk-in” clinics.

UCAOA will continue to engage with congressional lawmakers about the value urgent care centers could bring to the VHA, while drawing the distinction between urgent care centers and retail clinics.

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