Veteran Affairs partners with CVS Pharmacy

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that it is testing a new program with CVS Pharmacy that will allow some veterans to use their federal health benefits at CVS "MinuteClinics". Of the many veterans surveyed about the facility, 61% expressed their disappointment in obtaining an appointment for urgent primary care. 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. Through this initiative, Phoenix VA HCS nurses, when clinically appropriate, will now be able to refer Veterans to MinuteClinic through the Veterans Choice Program for the treatment of minor illnesses and injuries. VA Secretary David Shulkin has indicated he would like to scrap the current VCP restrictions.

"By allowing our electronic health records to communicate and share important clinical information, we'll have a more comprehensive view of the Veterans we collectively serve, which will enable important health care decision making and ensure continuity of care", said Andrew Sussman, MD, Executive Vice President and Associate Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health and President, MinuteClinic.

The Veterans Health Administration said it opted to go with a CVS partnership in Phoenix after VA officials there specifically pushed for the additional option.

From his seat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., insisted he was "proud of the work we've done" and called the new online portal a step in the right direction. A similar service was also launched with the VA in Palo Alto, California previous year.

The VA did not indicate whether it received requests from other VA medical centers or how quickly it might expand the program elsewhere.

Nonetheless, the new CVS partnership is the beginning point of enhancing the successful provision of healthcare services.

  • Eleanor Harrison