Last Monday 40 House lawmakers gave their consent , support and signed onto a letter, which criticized the Department of Veterans Affairs for the slow reimbursements to the private-sector doctors, which according to them are harming their veteran constituents’ credit reports.
Currently there are thousands of veterans who have enrolled in the Veterans Choice Program. The programs gives the veterans (patients) to seek for external medical services which is financed by the VA department. According to the letter, late payments by the Department has seen the medical bills of the VA patients being sent to debt collectors. When a timely payment is not made, according to the letter.
The situation so far “has generated negative consequences for the veterans’ financial standing, through no fault of their own,” the letter reads. “[T]he long-term damage to credit scores could be severe. At a minimum, this increases the costs of credit and could make it more difficult, if not impossible, for veterans to secure credit for life essentials such as a car or housing.”
Issues with disbursing payments to the non-VA medical care providers has been a longtime plague in the VA department ever since the Veterans Choice Program was created back in 2014. From the year the program began to the 18th of May this year, the VA department has received many calls (the exact number being 57,228 calls) from veterans seeking help after the VA’s delayed payments affected their credit reports, the letter states.
When consulted the VA officials, said that what might have contributed to the problem would be the short implementation period given for the program. Congress had given the VA department only 90 days to implement the plan.
In what might be described as a weak attempt to streamline the reimbursements to the concerned private doctors, Congress joined forces with the VA Secretary David Shulkin. They went ahead and passed a legislation earlier on this year that made the VA the primary payer under the Veterans Choice Program, instead of soliciting services from third-party contractors to clear the debts.
Even when those changes were made, according to the letter, the problem has not yet been addressed and solved. It is still remain concerned with the negative credit reporting is continuing.
The letter was sent to Shulkin and the team was led by Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., and Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas.