WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee, today praised the inclusion of a two-year extension of the Access to Received Closer to Home (ARCH) program in the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act – the compromised Veterans Choice Act of 2014. Sen. Moran had encouraged Senate and House conference committee members to include an extension of the ARCH program. The compromised legislation, which was passed by both the House and Senate and now awaits the President’s signature, includes provisions from Sen. Moran’s legislation, S. 2095. Specifically, the VA reform bill allows recently confirmed Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Bob McDonald to expand the program throughout each of the current five pilot sites’ Veterans Integrated Service Networks.
“I am pleased the compromised VA reform legislation includes a provision to extend ARCH,” Sen. Moran said. “This program is an important aspect of making certain veterans have access to quality care, particularly those who are underserved and struggle to receive the care they deserve in rural areas. Veterans from the five ARCH pilot sites are overwhelmingly satisfied with the care they receive through the program, and this extension will make certain they may continue to receive quality care closer to home.”
Sen. Moran also spoke with acting Secretary Gibson on June 27, 2014, to make certain veterans currently receiving medical services through ARCH would not see a gap in care. There are countless stories of veterans who are desperate for care, and experience roadblocks and long wait times, only to discover that through the ARCH program they could have seen a provider within days of their initial request – and just minutes from home. Sen. Moran encourages veterans in rural areas to enroll in VA healthcare and finally receive the care they deserve through this Choice Act, which also extends and expands the ARCH program. Click here to learn more and see if you qualify for the ARCH program.
Since 2011, the ARCH pilot program has been operating in five rural sites across the country including Pratt, Kansas. ARCH serves rural veterans by giving them access to health care from a community provider close to home instead of traveling hundreds of miles to seek care at a VA facility. Independent analysis shows that more than 90 percent of veterans who received primary care services through ARCH are “completely satisfied,” and cite significantly shortened travel times to receive care. Sen. Moran repeatedly asked VA officials – including Sec. Shinseki directly at a March 2014 SVAC hearing – about the future of the successful ARCH program which is set to expire in September 2014. Instead of the straightforward analysis promised by Sec. Shinseki, Sen. Moran only received empty promises and non-answers from the VA. Sources outside the VA also told the Senator 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. The VHA consistently gave Congress the impression they were waiting on analysis about the success of the program to inform their decision about extending the program and all along that has been a misleading storyline. The inclusion of a two-year extension of the ARCH program in the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act will help make certain rural veterans will continue to have access to timely, high-quality care.