HOISINGTON — As usual, Senator Jerry Moran was worth the price of admission (free) at the Hoisington Activity Center. He even jokingly talked about his father’s underwear for the first time. More on Moran’s father later.
Moran touched on a variety of topics, ranging from veterans services, fixing tax codes to Obamacare.
“We’ve been pushing to provide VA services closer to home,” Moran said. “We’re pushed out-patient clinics for routine services to be provided in Hays, Salina and Dodge City.”
Moran endorsed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pilot program, which provides health care services through contractual arrangements with non-VA care providers. The Project ARCH (Access Received Closer to Home), improves access for eligible veterans by connecting them to health care services closer to home.
“I didn’t intend for it to be a pilot program. I wanted it to be the full deal for everybody,” Moran said. “It’s a test to see whether the VA can provide services for veterans using local hospitals. Most veterans would prefer to receive care in their local hospital. Every dollar we can keep at home is more money supporting local healthcare.”
Hoisington’s Robert Adams is a member of the ARCH Program and said he has received timely treatment at the Wichita VA hospital after efforts to receive treatment in Great Bend was delayed.
“Anything major I get done in Wichita,” Adams said. “My physical therapy can be outsourced back home.”
Eligibility for the pilot program is based on specific criteria including Veterans enrollment for VA health care and distance from VHA for primary care, secondary care or acute care. The number of Veterans who are eligible to participate in Project ARCH will depend on the specific pilot site and the Veterans’ health care needs. Pratt, which includes Great Bend, is one of five pilot sites established along with Maine, Farmville, Va., Flagstaff, Ariz. and Billings, Mon.
The Choice Program allows veterans further than 40 miles away from a VA hospital, face an excessive travel burden; or 30 days without service to work with a local hospital. For example, the Ellinwood District Hospital provides care for four local veterans.
“Ellinwood helps four veterans,” Moran said. “The bureaucracy is so cumbersome the time to get paid is slow that it’s not worth it.”
Moran said VA officials prefer that the system stays the same. Moran discourages veterans from calling an 800 VA number because they will route veterans through VA hospitals rather than through local hospitals.
“They are looking for every way to discourage it,” Moran said.
Another issue Moran has invested time figuring out is the burdensome U.S. tax code. He would prefer a mix of a flat tax and a fair tax, based on consumption.
“We should start from scratch. We have a tax code that needs complete overhauling. We have the most expensive tax code of any industrialized country in the world. We have a tax code that discourages business,” he said. “Most people should make decisions based on what is good for them and their business and their family. That affects our liberty and freedom.”
Moran said the implementation of required healthcare coverage for businesses with more than 50 employees has also slowed small Kansas businesses. Moran said he knew of one business that didn’t expand because it pushed them over 50 employees. Another business downsized to get under 50 employees.
Moran said keeping small businesses like grocery stores in smaller towns is valuable.
Ironically, Moran told a story about his father’s underwear on the first anniversary of his father’s death. Raymond Moran, 98, died June 6, 2014.
Moran said his father was excited about a Dollar General opening in Plainville because they sold underwear. Moran’s father told his son he didn’t actually need to buy any underwear.
“But it’s so nice to know that’s it here,” Moran’s father said. “Economic development in a small town is as simple as having a grocery store in town.”