WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The Veterans Administration implemented the MISSION Act on June 6, but one of the lesser known provisions of the law established a new urgent care benefit that allows eligible veterans access to urgent and walk-in care at participating clinics in their communities.

This is a giant step forward in terms of convenience for the VA’s patients, as eligible veterans do not need to get prior authorization from the VA to visit an urgent care provider in the VA’s network.

This urgent care benefit is meant to give Veterans a convenient way to get treatment for minor injuries and illnesses such as colds, strep throat and pink eye. To be eligible for urgent and walk-in care, veterans must be enrolled in the VA health-care system and have received care through VA from either a VA or community provider within the past 24 months.

Since the roll out of the MISSION Act, local Veterans have enjoyed increased access to care by visiting our growing number of in network facilities throughout Vermont, New Hampshire and across the nation while vacationing and visiting with family.

If you are a veteran and would like to learn more about the urgent care benefits, go to missionact.va.gov.

The VA also announced the beginning of health care delivery to the area’s veterans under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs contract awarded to Optum Public Sector Solutions, Inc. has begun.

“The new Community Care Network contract awards reflect our ongoing commitment to increasing Veterans access to care,” said Department of Veteran’s Affairs Secretary Robert L. Wilkie, “and were designed based on feedback from veterans and other stakeholders.”

“We are confident it will greatly improve care coordination for local veterans here in the twin states and will also improve the timeliness of payments to our local community providers,” said Dr. Brett Rush, White River Junction VA Medical Center’s executive director.  

VA’s new community care network is made up of six regions. Region 1 includes Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. The VA is deploying this new network in phases to ensure continuity of care coordination. Veterans will continue to receive care from their current community providers during the transition.

The new network serves as the direct link between the VA and local health care providers providing a standard contract vehicle for the VA to purchase care. Optum, part of UnitedHealth Group, will manage the network in Vermont and will also process claims for payment to local providers on behalf of the VA.

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