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Tue June 17, 2014
VA Rural Health Care Pilot in Kansas Under the Gun
Kansas Senator Jerry Moran says a VA pilot program offering timely, quality health care to rural veterans is being allowed to expire in a few months, even though VA officials tell members of Congress no decision has been made.
As Bryan Thompson explains, Moran and four of his colleagues have sent a letter to the VA Secretary, asking for answers.
The pilot program is called Access Received Closer to Home, or ARCH. It’s offered through five pilot sites across the country, one of which is in Pratt. The program allows veterans to get health care services from community providers if they live at least one hour from a VA health facility.
Moran says veterans and VA employees in Kansas have told him that the national program director for ARCH directed the five pilot sites several months ago to begin contacting veterans who participate in ARCH to let them know the program would be ending. Moran suspects the VA is motivated by financial concerns…
“If they pay for services outside the VA, it’s less money that they’ve had to use within the VA," Moran said. "The focus ought to be on the quality of service and the timely access to care that this kind of program can provide.”
Moran says bipartisan legislation that’s expected to pass both houses of Congress, and be signed by the President, is based on the ARCH program. He’s calling on VA Secretary Sloan Gibson to halt plans to dismantle the program.