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Speaking on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., applauded the Senate for passing legislation today that would help improve the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the VA Choice Program, but expressed his disappointment that the legislation was not paid for.

“Since the VA Choice Program was enacted in 2014, I’ve received hundreds of letters and calls from people across Wyoming so frustrated with the program that they felt they had no other choice but to contact their senator,” Enzi said. “I have been contacted by veterans who could not access timely follow-up care or critical screenings because of unpaid claims, leading to providers dropping patients. Some veterans are even facing collections from the Choice program’s failure to pay claims! Similarly, many providers have not been paid for medical services they’ve provided. That has led some of Wyoming’s physicians to stop participating in VA Choice.”

Enzi noted that in March, Wyoming had more than 5,000 pending claims, with 3,214 of those being more than 30 days old. After multiple meetings with the VA and the Administrator of the VA Choice Program for Wyoming, they were able to get those numbers down to about 3,000 pending claims, with 1,025 of them being more than 30 days old.

While Enzi thought the bill passed by the Senate would help improve payment to providers and give additional tools for the VA to resolve payment issues, he thought the Senate must acknowledge that borrowing more money to pay for this program is not an ideal way to honor our veterans. 

“CBO estimates that federal outlays will total more than $56.6 trillion over the next 10 years – that’s 56,600 billion dollars, and yet nowhere in that budget can we find $4.5 billion to offset the cost of this program?” Enzi said. “I believe we should care for our veterans in a fiscally responsible manner. In fact, I believe this is the best way to assure their care long-term, as well as the care for the veterans of our next generation.” 

Click here to see some of Senator Enzi's comments.