VA tests partnership with CVS to reduce veterans' wait times

MinuteClinic, the retail medical clinic of CVS Health, is joining forces with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Phoenix VA Health Care System and TriWest Healthcare Alliance for an initiative that will expand access to high quality and convenient health care services for veterans in Phoenix and surrounding communities.

Nonetheless, he has expressed his desire to have a broader collaboration primarily between the VA and the private sector. Through Choice, veterans who face extraordinary barriers to VA facilities access - long wait times, extreme travel, or unoffered services - may access treatment at non-VA facilities.

Under this program, nurses at the Phoenix VA facility's help line will be allowed to refer veterans to CVS' MinuteClinics when it is deemed "medically appropriate".

The Department of Veterans Affairs is increasing transparency by launching a new online tool for veterans to get information on wait times and quality of care.

The new program, now limited to the Phoenix area, comes three years after the VA faced allegations of chronically long wait times at its centers, including its Phoenix facility, which treats about 120,000 veterans. "Thanks to the leadership of CVS Health and the VA, Phoenix's almost 120,000 Veterans will now be served at 24 different area MinuteClinic locations for minor health care services". But, he wants the VA to handle all scheduling and "customer service" - something that veterans groups generally support but government auditors caution could prove unwieldy and expensive. Interestingly, the veterans will not be bound by the existing limitations under the VA's Choice program.

"Our number one priority is getting veterans' access to care when and where they need it", said Baligh Yehia, the VA's deputy undersecretary for health for community care. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a press release. At that time, it came to light that VA leadership offered misleading reports about veteran wait times.

The VA is notorious for its wait times, and unwillingness to fix it. Other benefits that are likely to come with the new initiative is the elimination of Choice's 30-day, 40-mile restrictions.

For now the program is limited to the Valley, but if successful could become more widespread.

  • Zachary Reyes