Heartland Health Monitor
8:38 am
Tue June 17, 2014

VA Rural Health Care Pilot Under The Gun In Kansas

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran says a Veterans Administration 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.

Moran and four of his colleagues sent a letter to the VA Secretary seeking an explanation. 

The pilot program, called Access Received Closer to Home, or ARCH, is offered through five pilot sites across the country, including one in Pratt, Kan.

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 contact veterans who participate in ARCH and 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, and of course 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.

Moran, a Republican, says bipartisan legislation that is expected to pass both houses of Congress and to be signed by President Obama is based on the ARCH program. He is calling on VA Secretary Sloan Gibson to halt plans to dismantle the program. 

Bryan Thompson is a reporter for Kansas Public Radio.