How IU Health is expanding veterans' access to urgent care

Veterans have expanded access to medical care outside of VA hospitals through a new program launched June 6 under the Mission Act.

The Mission Act, which was signed into law last year, expands veterans' access to non-VA providers in several ways, including by establishing a new urgent care benefit. Eligible veterans can now receive care from an urgent care provider that is part of the VA's contracted network of community providers without prior authorization.

Indianapolis-based Indiana University Health is one of the health systems approved as a VA-authorized urgent care provider. Melissa Cash, urgent care regional administrator for IU Health, was part of the team that worked to get the system's six urgent care centers into the program. Here's what she had to say about the new program and the benefits it offers to veterans.

Question: Why did IU Health decide to become a Veterans Affairs-authorized urgent care provider?

Melissa Cash: We know that accessing highly skilled medical care can be a challenge for those who have served our country. So when we heard about the Mission Act, we knew we had to be part of the initiative and the mission to improve access to care for our veterans. The objective is to provide urgent care access for our veterans and make sure they get personalized, affordable, high-quality healthcare in a timely manner.

Q: What are the main benefits of IU Health becoming a VA-authorized urgent care provider?

MC: Partnering with the VA allows IU Health the opportunity to expand patient access via our urgent cares by extending benefits to a population in need, our veterans. This partnership squarely aligns with IU Health's mission to make Indiana one of the healthiest states. Veterans gain access to the urgent care they require with no copay due at time of service, reducing the need to visit an ER department. IU Health also benefits from the trust the VA has shown in our urgent cares, and we are committed to earning that trust.

Q: What are IU Health's short- and long-term goals for the program? Do you anticipate any challenges?

MC: Our goals are to care for all veterans, both local and visitors to Indiana, on the same day they need urgent medical care. A short-term challenge is to help educate veterans about their new urgent care benefits. Our staff is trained to explain the new program and its benefits to veterans. We look forward to giving our veterans the highly skilled and personalized care they deserve.

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