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  • Washington Highlights

    AAMC Submits Comments to VA on Urgent Care

    Kate Ogden, Physician Payment & Quality Specialist

    The AAMC March 4 submitted comments to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in response to a proposed rule on urgent care access for veterans.

    The rule proposes allowing eligible veterans to receive care from urgent care centers within the community, outside of the traditional VA system [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 1]. In the rule, the VA clarified that veterans would not need to receive prior approval before seeking care at an urgent care center, and that care at these centers should be limited to episodic care, defined as a sole incident or need, rather than for ongoing services.

    In its comments, the AAMC supports the proposals for eligible veterans to be able to seek urgent care outside of the traditional VA system, especially in areas where access to a VA Medical Center may be limited. The AAMC urged the VA to establish appropriate contractual arrangements with urgent care centers and sufficiently communicate that information to veterans. The AAMC also encouraged the VA to ensure that information regarding scope of services and coverage is communicated effectively to veterans, along with information about locations and copay amounts.

    The AAMC also supported the VA’s proposal that veterans’ use of urgent care should be limited to episodic care and should not be used for longitudinal care, which in most cases should be managed by a primary care provider. Additionally, the AAMC urges the VA to develop processes for urgent care centers to have the ability to share patient encounter information with the veteran’s primary care provider or other relevant provider.

    The VA is also seeking comments on a proposed rule on access standards for its new community care program, with comments due March 25 [see Washington Highlights, March 1].