Delaney Bill to Protect Veterans Credit Gains Support of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
WASHINGTON – The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) have announced their support for Congressman John K. Delaney’s Protecting Veterans Credit Act. Delaney’s legislation blocks the credit rating of veterans from being wrongfully lowered due to delayed payments associated with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Choice Program, shielding them from unnecessary financial harm. In addition to IAVA, the Protecting Veterans Credit Act has received the support of 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.
“We have to make sure that America’s veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned, that the VA delivers world-class services promptly and that no veteran has their credit score ruined due to delayed payments from the VA,” said Congressman Delaney. “No veteran should have their personal financial standing harmed due to the VA’s problems and that’s why this legislation is so important. IAVA are the champions of the latest generation of Americans and I’m thrilled and humbled to have their support on this important legislation.”
“IAVA thanks Congressman Delaney for introducing the Protecting Veterans Credit Act,” IAVA Legislative Director Tom Porter said. “Protecting veterans' financial well-being is important to our organization and veterans shouldn't suffer bad credit ratings because the of delayed VA payments. We're happy to support this bill and look forward to seeing it progress toward passage.”
Delaney’s bipartisan bill is currently cosponsored by seven Democrats and four Republicans in the House of Representatives and a Senate companion to the Delaney bill has also been filed. Delaney is also the author of bipartisan legislation to provide disabled veterans with expedited access to protected medical leave.
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.