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Phoenix VA Vets Eligible For CVS Clinic Care

Mariana Dale/KJZZ
file | staff
“Why should a veteran on a weekend have to wait until Monday?” said Sen. John McCain of minor health care needs.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is piloting a new partnership with CVS Health’s MinuteClinics in Phoenix.

An estimated 120,00 veterans will be eligible to be referred to 24 Valley Minute Clinics for minor health problems such as the flu or a sore throat.

“I’ve long believed that veterans in need of routine health care should not have to wait in line for weeks to get an appointment when they can visit community health centers like Minute care-- clinic--  to receive timely and convenient care,” said Sen. John McCain, who announced the program at a MinuteClinic in a Tempe CVS on Tuesday. 

Veterans are not eligible to be referred to MinuteClinics for more serious issues such as chest pain, broken bones or other chronic issues.

Here’s how it works: Veterans call a VA triage nurse (602-277-5551) who will evaluate the patient’s symptoms and if applicable, refer them to the nearest eligible MinuteClinic.

They should be walking into a CVS within two hours, Phoenix VA officials said.

The veteran will be able to charge the Phoenix VA Health Care System and other insurers for their care.

Veterans will also be able to fill their prescriptions through CVS, but will have to pay out of pocket and request a reimbursement from the VA.

Medicines prescribed may also be filled at the Phoenix VA pharmacy.

For now, the program is only available during normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but plans to expand to match MinuteClinic’s evening, weekend and holiday hours.

“You know that expression, that perfect is the enemy of the good?” said Maureen McCarthy, the Phoenix VA Health Care Center’s chief of staff. “If we were to try to make it perfect, we’d be still here probably next year trying to do it.”

The program is an expansion of the Veterans Choice Program, which allows vets to seek care outside the VA.

MinuteClinic reported it is the largest provider of “retail health care” in the U.S. with 11,000 clinics. 

Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.