Among options for veterans seeking health care is a new urgent care benefit.

Last month the federal government replaced the retired Choice program for veterans with the new VA MISSION Act of 2018, according to Linda Wondra with Walla Walla’s Jonathan M. Wainwright VA Medical Center.

Through this new program, eligible veterans can visit an urgent care clinic. Currently the closest clinics that have signed up are in the Tri-Cities, Wondra said.

TriCities Community Health, in Pasco, and On Scene Medical Services, in Kennewick, will take veterans in this program, she said.

“We anticipate more will soon be available, to include the Walla Walla area,” Wondra stated in a release this week.

Since the launch of the MISSION Act, work has been going on behind the scenes to reach out to community clinics across the nation to get them signed up in the VA’s network, according to the release.

The VA MISSION Act was launched on June 6. It established a new veterans community care program, strengthening the nationwide VA health care system by empowering veterans to have more options in their health care decisions, the release detailed.

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

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, according to the release.

More information is provided online at bit.ly/2JC1kqZ. This video provides an overview of the urgent care benefit under the VA MISSION Act including eligibility, in-network providers, covered services, co-payments and prescription medication.

To learn what urgent care clinics are available in the area, use this link to search by address, VA facility or Zip code: bit.ly/2XLMOW5. Currently, five urgent care clinics are registered for the Walla Walla VA catchment area, including two in the Tri-Cities, one in Lewiston, one in Moscow, Idaho, and one in Enterprise, Ore.

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