WASHINGTON D.C. – The Veterans Administration is not making it easy enough for veterans who don’t get medical care fast enough or live too far away from facilities to take advantage of a new program designed to help them, according to U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso (both R-WY).
The Wyoming senators joined Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and other colleagues this week in sending a letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald that raised serious concerns about the implementation of the Veterans Choice Card program.
The program was established by Congress last year in response to the nationwide crisis of veterans’ access to care but has yet to be implemented as Congress envisioned. The program allows veterans who live more than 40 miles from the closest VA facility, or who face a significant delay in scheduling an appointment, to access non-VA care.
“The VA is construing the eligibility criteria as it relates to the 40-mile rule so narrowly that it is excluding too many who are far away from the care that they need,” wrote the senators. In addition, the Administration has said that it plans to propose reallocating funds for the Veterans Choice Program to other VA accounts.
The senators urged Secretary McDonald to make certain that funding provided by Congress is being used to implement the Veterans Choice Program to the fullest extent possible.
The letter is also signed by Susan Collins (R-ME), Jerry Moran (R-KS), John McCain (R-AZ), King (I-ME), Grassley (R-IA), Markey (D-MA), Ernst (R-IA), Vitter (R-LA), Manchin (D-WV), Fischer (R-NE), Klobuchar (D-MN), Flake (R-AZ), Warner (D-VA), Crapo (R-ID), Wyden (D-OR), Hatch (R-UT), Boxer (D-CA), Roberts (R-KS), Kaine (D-VA), Brown (D-OH), Heitkamp (D-ND), Rubio (R-FL), Cardin (D-MD), Tillis (R-NC), Mikulski (D-MD), Toomey (R-PA), Heinrich (D-NM), Capito (R-WV), Daines (R-MT), Inhofe (R-OK), Burr (R-NC), Alexander (R-TN), Thune (R-SD), Cotton (R-AR), Hoeven (R-ND), Cruz (R-TX), Merkley (D-OR), Kirk (R-IL), McCaskill (D-MO), and Scott (R-SC).
The full text of the letter can be viewed online HERE.