Delaney Legislation to Protect Veterans Credit Introduced in Senate
WASHINGTON – A Senate companion bill to Congressman John K. Delaney’s (MD-6) bipartisan Protecting Veterans Credit Act has been introduced by Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD). The legislation, which protects the credit rating of veterans and prevent them from unnecessary financial hardship due to delayed payments associated with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Choice Program, was first introduced by Congressman Delaney on June 28 and is currently cosponsored by seven Democrats and four Republicans in the House of Representatives.
The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and the National Patient Advocate Foundation have issued statements of support for The Protecting Veterans Credit Act.
“No veteran should have their credit score ruined and their personal finances jeopardized because of problems at the VA,” said Congressman Delaney. “The Protecting Veterans Credit Act has generated such strong bipartisan support in both chambers because it addresses a major problem head-on and the American people really want America’s veterans to be protected. I thank Senator Donnelly and Senator Rounds for authoring this legislation in the Senate and look forward to continuing to build support for our bill.”
The Protecting Veterans Credit Act (H.R. 5593)
- Enacted in 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Choice Program provides veterans with the ability to receive medical care in a non-VA facility if the VA cannot schedule an appointment within a specified time period or if the veteran lives more than 40 miles from the closest VA medical facility. Unfortunately, there have been issues with the implementation of the program, including delayed Choice Program payments and inappropriately assigned bills to veterans.
- Because of delays and incorrectly assigned bills, veterans have received adverse actions on their credit reports and inappropriate debt collection efforts.
- Adverse credit action makes it more difficult and more expensive for a person to get a home mortgage or an auto loan or even to rent an apartment.
- To address these issues, the VA set up a call center for veterans to contact the VA to resolve debt collection and adverse credit reporting. As of the end of May, the VA handled over 7100 inbound telephone calls.
- While the VA is actively trying to reform the Choice Program, veterans need immediate and retroactive relief from erroneous credit reporting actions and debt collection efforts. No veteran should have their credit score hurt or be harassed by debt collectors because of a delay in the VA or their private contractor paying the bills.
- The Protecting Veterans’ Credit Act delays medical debt from medical services received through the Choice Program 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, while retaining a route for resolution of any co-payments or other obligations.
- The bill provides a mechanism for veterans to easily dispute adverse actions already on their reports. Additionally, the bill requires debt collectors to provide the veteran with written information of their rights and who they can contact to resolve an issue.
- By instituting a one year grace period, it will allow for the multiple parties involved in the Choice Program time to process the payments, so the veterans receive the care they need, the doctors are fairly compensated, and veterans don’t suffer a credit loss for something that isn’t their fault.
- Ensures veterans are not unnecessarily pressured into paying bills that they do not owe.