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Rounds, Donnelly Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Veterans’ Credit Scores

Legislation would protect veterans from unfair financial harm due to delays at the VA

PIERRE— U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) announced today they have introduced bipartisan legislation that would protect the credit ratings of veterans wrongly penalized by delays in reimbursements for medical bills by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In addition to experiencing long wait times and issues making appointments through the Veterans Choice Program, veterans are also getting billed inappropriately for services because the VA has failed to pay health care providers in a timely fashion. These bills, which should be covered by VA benefits, can create financial hardship for veterans and damage their credit scores.

The Protecting Veterans’ Credit Act would delay for one year medical debt from being reported to credit agencies for veterans who have accessed services through the Veterans Choice Program and other similar VA community care programs. This would allow time for payment issues to be resolved without impacting veterans’ credit scores.

“No veteran should have to worry about a lower credit rating and all the costs associated with it because of delays in payment and processing from the VA,” said Rounds. “Our legislation makes certain that veterans do not suffer financial hardship – through no fault of their own – when they choose to use a private health provider through the Choice program. Our veterans should be focused on proper treatment and recovery; not whether receiving care will affect their credit rating.”

“Hoosier veterans and their credit ratings can be harmed as a result of delays by the VA, which can make it harder to buy a house, rent an apartment, buy a car, or even get a job,” said Donnelly. This bipartisan bill would provide relief directly to the men and women who served our country with honor and distinction. They deserve access to quality and timely health care services and the benefits they have earned, without worrying it will lead to financial ruin.”

Several advocacy and veterans’ advocacy organizations have expressed their support for the legislation including the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the National Patient Advocate Foundation.

“Medical debt wrecks disaster on patients and their families,” said Alan Balch, CEO, National Patient Advocate Foundation & Patient Advocate Foundation. “No one deserves to be a casualty of the effects of medical debt, but veterans least of all. The provisions in the Protecting Veterans Credit Act will help defend our veterans from the toxicity of medical debt and its long-term impacts, and ensure they do not suffer a credit loss incurred through no fault of their own when fighting an unpredictable or unforeseen illness. A lowered credit rating or bankruptcy should never be the collateral damage of a veteran seeking medical care.”

Congressman John Delaney (MD-06) recently led the introduction of bipartisan companion legislation in the U.S. of House of Representatives.