Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation that would protect the credit ratings of veterans wrongly penalized by medical bill payment delays by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Donnelly said, “Veterans should be able to access quality health care without worrying that delayed payments from the VA will hurt their credit scores. This bipartisan legislation would protect veterans from credit damage that can make it harder to get a job, buy a house, or rent an apartment. The men and women who have put their lives on the line for our country deserve nothing less."
Rounds said, “When veterans receive care in the community, they shouldn’t have to worry about a delayed payment from the VA negatively impacting their credit score. Our legislation would make sure that veterans are protected from medical debt wrongfully charged to them instead of the VA. It also creates a simple dispute process to correct the veteran’s credit history.”
The Protecting Veterans Credit Act would prohibit medical debt from services received through the Choice Program and other VA community care programs from being reported to credit reporting agencies for one year. This delay provides adequate time for the VA and its contractors to resolve the issues. The Protecting Veterans’ Credit Act would also allow veterans to dispute and remove adverse actions already on their reports.
In addition to the support of the Consumer Federation of America and the National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients), several veterans advocacy organizations have expressed their support for the legislation including the American Legion, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Charles E. Schmidt, National Commander, The American Legion said, “The American Legion supports the Protecting Veterans Credit Act which will help ensure that our veterans’ credit scores are not harmed by Department of Veterans Affairs delays in payment of medical bills incurred under the Choice Program. Presently, some veterans’ credit is being adversely affected when they seek care outside the VA system and receive bills from civilian medical providers that are not paid by the VA in a timely manner. Every veteran should be able to seek high quality responsive health care services without worrying it will lead to financial ruin. We thank Senator Donnelly and Senator Rounds for introducing this important legislation.”
John Rowan, National President, Vietnam Veterans of America said, “Vietnam Veterans of America applauds Senator Donnelly for his introduction of the Protecting Veterans Credit Act, which will go a long way towards ensuring a veteran’s credit isn’t destroyed due to the slow disbursement of Choice Program payments. Our veterans should not be subject to unnecessary financial hardship because of delays as the VA and private providers sort out the billing issues."
Carlos Fuentes, Director of National Legislative Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars said, “In addition to experiencing long wait times and issues making appointments through the Veterans Choice Program, veterans are also getting billed inappropriately for services when the VA fails to pay health care providers in a timely fashion. The delayed payment of medical bills, which should be covered by VA benefits, can create financial hardship for veterans and damage credit scores. The Protecting Veterans Credit Act prohibits medical debt from medical services received through the Veterans Choice Program and other similar VA community care programs from being reported to credit reporting agencies for one year. This would allow time for payment issues to be resolved without impacting veterans’ credit scores.”