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Sen. Moran Urges President Obama to Improve Health Care for Rural Veterans

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a member of the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, recently urged President Obama to consider veterans in rural areas as the Administration works to strengthen and accelerate access to health care for veterans.

“Rural veterans in Kansas and other states face significant challenges accessing health care through the VA system,” Sen. Moran said. “The burdens of time and distance prevent many rural veterans from receiving basic care through a VA facility and, all too often, important preventative or follow-up care is extremely difficult to obtain. I believe that any expansion of health care outside of VA facilities should afford rural veterans the option for them to choose care in their own communities.”

Sen. Moran continues to recommend that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expands a successful program already being implemented to support rural veterans – Access Received Closer to Home (ARCH). Earlier this month, during Senate Appropriations Committee mark-up of the FY2015 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, Sen. Moran had language included that expands and extends Project ARCH (Access Received Closer to Home) beyond its expiration in September 2014, making certain it is appropriated in FY2015 at $35 million. In addition, Senator Moran introduced a bill, S. 2095, similar to the amendment that was successful in the Appropriations Committee whereby the ARCH program would be authorized beyond September 2014 and expanded around the country. ARCH is a congressionally authorized pilot program implemented by the VA that allows veterans to access care from non-VA community providers closer to where a veteran lives. Since 2011, the ARCH pilot program has been operating in five rural sites – one of those sites is Pratt, Kan. Analysis shows that more than 90 percent of veterans who received primary care services through ARCH were “completely satisfied” with the care, and cited significantly shortened travel times to receive this care. Sen. Moran believes veterans would benefit from the VA extending and expanding the ARCH program. 

Rural Americans have consistently served in our military at rates higher than their proportion of the population. In fact, 44 percent of U.S. recruits today are from rural area, and they will become our nation’s veterans of tomorrow. Additionally, 41 percent of all veterans enrolled in the VA health care system reside in rural communities, creating a vital need for health care access in rural areas. The disproportionate number of rural Americans serving in the military has created a disproportionate need for veterans’ care in rural areas. In order to provide timely access to for rural veterans, Sen. Moran believes care options must include Critical Access Hospitals, Rural Health Clinics, Sole Community Hospitals and other rural hospitals that provide quality, community-oriented, primary and preventative care located where rural veterans live.

Click below to view the full letter Sen. Moran and U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) sent to President Obama. 

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