Arizona veterans get faster access to care at walk-in Minute Clinics

The VA is testing a new pilot program in the Phoenix area with CVS Minute Clinic in order to reduce wait times.

Two dozen Minute Clinics inside CVS drug stores in the Valley are now treating the aches and pains of 120,000 Arizona veterans.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and CVS are partnering on the first test of a service to deliver lower-level care to vets.

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It will reduce some wait times for VA patients who might otherwise use the Phoenix VA Medical Center for treatment of illnesses such as strep throat and ear infections, or cuts and burns.

Arizona Sen. John McCain's "Choice" program, which allows veterans to get care outside the VA, made the Minute Clinic test possible.

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To use the walk-in Minute Clinics, veterans first have to call the VA's nurse triage line for a referral. The triage line's manager says the referral should take no more than two hours. 

Here are the triage line numbers:

602-277-5551, press option 3

800-554-7174, press option 3 

602-222-6550

But at a news conference Tuesday at a Tempe Minute Clinic, VA officials were candid in admitting the process isn't seamless yet.

For example, veterans might have to pay for their prescription upfront, then get reimbursed by the VA.

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