--U.S. Senator Susan Collins announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a provision she authored aiming to preserve Northern Maine veterans’ access to health care. Senator Collins is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.
Specifically, Senator Collins’ provision directs the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that veterans who participated in the Access Received Closer to Home (ARCH) pilot maintain continuity of care through the use of provider agreements.
“The VA has called the ARCH pilot in Maine the ‘standard-bearer’ for coordinating community care, and in fact, the pilot had a 90 percent satisfaction rating among veterans who participated. I’ve heard from countless Maine veterans about how ARCH eliminated the need for long and difficult travel, reduced wait times, and provided access to high-quality care in their communities,” said Senator Collins. “Given this success, I am pleased that the Appropriations Committee approved my provision directing the Secretary to ensure Northern Maine veterans continue to receive access to the quality health care they have earned and deserve.”
Background on ARCH:
Beginning in 2011, the ARCH pilot program allowed Northern Maine veterans to receive health care services at Cary Medical Center in Caribou, negating the need for these veterans to travel up to 600 miles roundtrip to the Togus VA Hospital in Augusta. Prior to the ARCH program’s expiration in 2016, Senator Collins strongly advocated for the continuation of similar access to community care and invited Dr. Shulkin, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to Cary Medical Center last year so that they could see this highly successful program firsthand.
Following Dr. Shulkin’s visit, the VA began authorizing provider agreements that allowed Northern Maine veterans to continue receiving health care services at Cary Medical Center and other providers in a manner very similar to the ARCH program.