Congressman John K. Delaney has published an op-ed in the Cumberland Times-News on his Protecting Veterans Credit Act.
In June, Delaney introduced legislation to ensure that the credit score of veterans are not wrongfully lowered due to delayed payments from the VA.
Here’s a chain of events that should upset any American. First, after enduring long wait times for their health care, a veteran decides to use the Department of Veterans Choice Program, a new option that allows veterans to receive medical care in a non-VA facility.
However, the VA and the non-VA provider take too long to resolve the payment and suddenly the veterans’ credit report includes a large unresolved debt. This then lowers their credit score, making it more difficult and more expensive for them to buy a home or automobile, rent an apartment or even be hired at a new job.
Through no fault of their own the system has delayed their health care and then destroyed their finances.
That’s unacceptable to me and that’s why I introduced the Protecting Veterans Credit Act, bipartisan legislation that protects the credit rating of veterans and shields them from unnecessary financial hardship due to delayed payments. We have to make sure that our financial system works for America’s veterans.
Unfortunately, there have also been widespread problems with the processing of Choice Program bills and veterans need immediate relief from erroneous credit reporting. Billing issues shouldn’t leave a veteran with a lower credit score.
A lower credit score matters. Even if it doesn’t completely block a veteran’s access to a home or auto loan or insurance, the increased costs could be severe. The difference in long-term costs for a $250,000 mortgage set at 4 percent interest rate versus 4.5 percent is more than $20,000.
Think of that — a veteran paying tens of thousands of dollars more through no fault of their own. Worse still, a lower credit score can make it harder to rent an apartment and harder to pay down credit card debt.
Our bill creates a one year grace period for medical debt from health care services received through the Choice Program from being reported to credit reporting agencies. This allows the VA and its contractors to resolve billing issues.
A number of national organizations have announced their support for my bill, including the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I consider it an honor to have these groups backing our legislation and will continue to work to improve VA services moving forward. America’s veterans are truly the nation’s heroes, they deserve the benefits they’ve earned and their financial standing should not be damaged because of VA failures.