§ 17.4600 - Urgent care.
(a) Purpose. The purpose of this section is to establish procedures for accessing urgent care. Eligible veterans may obtain urgent care, in accordance with the requirements and processes set forth in this section, from qualifying non-VA entities or providers in VA's network that are identified by VA in accordance with paragraph (c)(2) of this section.
(b) Definitions. The following definitions apply to this section.
(1) Eligible veteran means a veteran described in 38 U.S.C. 1725A(b).
(2) Episodic care means care or services provided in a single visit to an eligible veteran for a particular health condition, or a limited set of particular health conditions, without an ongoing relationship being established between the eligible veteran and qualifying non-VA entities or providers.
(3) Longitudinal management of conditions means outpatient care that addresses important disease prevention and treatment goals and is dependent upon bidirectional communications that are ongoing over an extended period of time. For purposes of this section, the term “longitudinal management of conditions” and “longitudinal care” are synonymous.
(4) Qualifying non-VA entity or provider means a non-VA entity or provider, including Federally-qualified health centers as defined in 42 U.S.C. 1396d(l)(2)(B), that has entered into a contract, agreement, or other arrangement with the Secretary to furnish urgent care under this section, or has entered into an agreement with a third-party administrator with whom VA has a contract to furnish such care.
(5) Urgent care means services provided by a qualifying non-VA entity or provider, and as further defined in paragraphs (b)(5)(i) through (iv) of this section.
(i) Urgent care includes service available from entities or providers submitting claims for payment as a walk-in retail health clinic (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Place of Service code 17) or urgent care facility (CMS Place of Service code 20);
(ii)(A) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(5)(ii)(B) or (b)(5)(iv) of this section, urgent care does not include preventive health services, as defined in section 1701(9) of title 38, United States Code, dental care, or chronic disease management.
(B) Urgent care includes immunization against influenza (flu shots), as well as therapeutic vaccines that are necessary in the course of treatment of an otherwise included service and screenings related to the treatment of symptoms associated with an immediate illness or exposure.
(iii) Urgent care may only be furnished as episodic care for eligible veterans needing immediate non-emergent medical attention, and it does not include longitudinal care. Veterans requiring follow-up care as a result of an urgent care visit under this section must contact VA or their VA-authorized primary care provider to arrange such care.
(iv) If VA determines that the provision of additional services is in the interest of eligible veterans, based upon identified health needs, VA may offer such additional services under this section as VA determines appropriate. Such services may be limited in duration and location. VA will inform the public through a
(c) Procedures. (1)(i)(A) Eligible veterans may receive urgent care under this section without prior approval from VA.
(B) Eligible veterans must declare at each episode of care if they are using this benefit prior to receiving urgent care under this section.
(2) VA will publish a website providing information on urgent care, including the names, locations, and contact information for qualifying non-VA entities or providers from which urgent care is available under this section.
(3) In general, eligibility under this section does not affect eligibility for hospital care or medical services under the medical benefits package, as defined in § 17.38, or other benefits addressed in this title. Nothing in this section waives the eligibility requirements established in other statutes or regulations.
(4) Urgent care furnished under this section must meet VA's standards for quality established under 38 U.S.C. 1703C, as applicable.
(d) Copayment. (1) Except as provided in paragraphs (d)(2) and (3) of this section, an eligible veteran, as a condition for receiving urgent care provided by VA under this section, must agree to pay VA (and is obligated to pay VA) a copayment of $30:
(i) After three visits in a calendar year if such eligible veteran is enrolled under § 17.36(b)(1) through (6), except those veterans described in § 17.36(d)(3)(iii) for all matters not covered by priority category 6.
(ii) If such eligible veteran is enrolled under § 17.36(b)(7) or (8), including veterans described in § 17.36(d)(3)(iii).
(2) An eligible veteran who receives urgent care under paragraph (b)(5)(iv) of this section or urgent care consisting solely of an immunization against influenza (flu shot) is not subject to a copayment under paragraph (d)(1) of this section and such a visit shall not count as a visit for purposes of paragraph (d)(1)(i) of this section.
(3) If an eligible veteran would be required to pay more than one copayment under this section, or a copayment under this section and a copayment under § 17.108 or § 17.111, on the same day, the eligible veteran will only be charged the higher copayment.
(e) Prescriptions. Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, VA will:
(1) Pay for prescriptions written by qualifying non-VA entities or providers for eligible veterans, including over-the-counter drugs and medical and surgical supplies, available under the VA national formulary system to cover a course of treatment for urgent care no longer than 14 days.
(2) Fill prescriptions for urgent care written by qualifying non-VA entities or providers for eligible veterans, including over-the-counter drugs and medical and surgical supplies, available under the VA national formulary system.
(3) Pay for prescriptions written by qualifying non-VA entities or providers for eligible veterans that have an immediate need for durable medical equipment and medical devices that are required for urgent conditions (e.g., splints, crutches, manual wheelchairs).
(f) Payments. Payments made for urgent care constitute payment in full and shall extinguish the veteran's liability to the qualifying non-VA entity or provider. The qualifying non-VA entity or provider may not impose any additional charge on a veteran or his or her health care insurer for any urgent care service for which payment is made by VA. This section does not abrogate VA's right, under 38 U.S.C. 1729, to recover or collect from a third party the reasonable charges of the care or services provided under this section.