Urgent Care Association of America Statement on the Introduction of the Veterans Emergency Room Relief Act of 2017

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UCAOA supports the Veterans Emergency Room Relief Act of 2017 in the U.S. Senate.

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“Not only will the Veterans Emergency Room Relief Act serve to meet the health care needs of veterans, but it has the potential to reduce health care costs to the VA system,” said Pamela Sullivan, MD, UCAOA president.

The Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) applauds the introduction of the Veterans Emergency Room Relief Act of 2017 in the U.S. Senate (S. 1261). If enacted, the legislation will require the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) to pay for care provided to our nation’s veterans in urgent care centers, which could provide additional health care options for veterans and decrease costs incurred at already over-crowded emergency rooms.

The legislation was introduced by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA). Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA-3) will introduce companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Urgent care centers have the capacity to care for veterans in the communities where they live without excessive wait times. Veterans and all health care consumers should have access to urgent care centers for non-emergent health care needs, such as lacerations and broken bones that need immediate attention, as well as other common illnesses and injuries that can worsen if not addressed in a timely manner.

“Veterans in need of urgent care and who may not be able to access a primary care physician or VA facility in a timely manner are seeking care in the emergency department, many times finding themselves responsible for the cost of that care when the prudent layperson standard of an emergency is not met,” said Pamela Sullivan, MD, UCAOA president.

“The VA has highlighted the essential need to partner with providers in communities across the country to meet the ‘steep increase in demand for care’ for veterans,” said Sullivan. “Not only will the Veterans Emergency Room Relief Act serve to meet the health care needs of veterans, but it has the potential to reduce health care costs to the VA system.”

UCAOA believes it is important for all veterans to have a regular source of health care. Access to urgent care in the community should be used as appropriate and not as a substitute for a patient’s medical home. Co-management with the patient’s dedicated primary care provider is a central tenet of urgent care delivery. According to UCAOA’s 2016 Benchmarking Study, 85 percent of urgent care center respondents indicated they have a mechanism in place to align patients with a medical home or primary care provider when they do not have one. Ninety-one percent of surveyed urgent care centers responded that they communicate information regarding the patient encounter to an existing external clinical provider. And some urgent care centers provide both on-demand medical care and ongoing primary care services.

“The Urgent Care Association of America thanks Sen. Bill Cassidy and Rep. Clay Higgins for their critical leadership on this important legislation,” said Steve Sellars, UCAOA immediate past president and chief executive officer of Premier Health in Baton Rouge, LA.

“Our veterans deserve the highest level of timely and quality care possible,” said Dr. Cassidy. “The VA should always be working in ways that best serve our veterans. This legislation meets that requirement.”

“Our legislation is common sense. It increases access to health care for all veterans and decreases overall expense for the VHA,” said Rep. Higgins. “I support this revision to existing law one thousand percent, and I’m glad to be working with Senator Cassidy on this critical endeavor for my American veteran brothers and sisters.”

The UCAOA represents an industry of nearly 7,400 urgent care centers throughout the United States. Urgent care centers play a dominant and important integrative role in health care communities across the country and are uniquely positioned to resolve the significant health care access issues facing our nation’s veterans.

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Mary Velan
L.C. Williams and Associates
+1 (312) 565-3900
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