Target: Robert. A. McDonald, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Goal: Applaud new law that expands veterans’ access to medical facilities
Through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, both veterans and their families have the opportunity to seek medical care at VA hospitals. In order to get to these hospitals, however, many veterans living in rural areas must travel long distances. According to an article in NPR, millions of veterans living in rural United States must drive hundreds of miles – enduring harsh weather conditions and treacherous roads in some parts of the country – just to access the care at a VA medical facility that is their well-earned benefit. Though the VA reimburses costs like missed work days, gas, and motel stays, many veterans in rural areas are not able to provide cash up front. This financial obstacle forces many to put off a trip to the hospital, a serious issue when timely care is crucial to protecting the health of both veterans and their families.
Fortunately, the VA has taken a major step to address this obstacle. Since 2011, when it was piloted in five states, the VA’s Access Received Closer to Home (ARCH) program has allowed veterans to use private doctors that are “closer to home” than VA hospitals might be. Most recently, as part of larger reforms to the VA, the program is being extended for two years, and will allow veterans to go into any private clinic and bill the VA using a voucher. One of the most complicated of the VA care programs to date, the voucher system has ushered in new challenges, mainly coordination between health care providers and the VA, the latter of which must pay providers within a 30-day window. Yet, so far the ARCH program has saved veterans an estimated $600,000 in mileage alone. What’s more, according to the article in NPR, vets themselves appreciate being spared the perhaps 400-mile trip to see a physician.
By signing the petition below, you can recognize this VA program for removing a major obstacle to veterans’ seeking healthcare.
Dear Secretary McDonald,
I am writing to applaud your agency for expanding access to healthcare for veterans in rural areas. In implementing new reforms to the Access Received Closer to Home program, you are enabling veterans and their families to save hundreds of miles of driving, removing a major obstacle to accessing care.
Allowing veterans to pay for care using a voucher, this new system represents a welcome innovation to address the challenges of providing care to the veteran community. I recognize the challenges that the reforms bring, and wish to express my support for your agency as it prepares to take on these challenges, integrating coordination between healthcare providers and the Veterans’ Administration. Thank you for your leadership in tackling this health disparity.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Hu Totya via Wikimedia Commons