The Department of Veterans Affairs: Change Medical Debt Policies; Stop Punishing Veterans with Debt

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The way that the Department of Veterans Affairs collects medical debts from veterans is unacceptable. As a disabled veteran trying to pay my medical bills and get treatment, I struggle every day to navigate a backwards system that creates unnecessary stress for veterans, produces significant paper waste, and punishes veterans trying to pay off their debt.

Here’s how the current system works: When a veteran like me makes a payment, it is applied to the oldest invoice on record, instead of being applied to the most current invoice. The vast majority of healthcare companies in America do the opposite – they pay off new invoices first and use any remainder to pay down debt. Paying new invoices first allows patients to pay down debt without going into more. But the Department of Veteran’s Affairs’ backward system makes it really hard for vets to ever catch up on payments.

When  veterans have debt, they must submit a complete 3+ page paper financial statement every 90 days for every facility they go to, otherwise the Department of Veterans Affairs seizes the veteran's total disability payment as well as 20% of any other federal income that the veteran is receiving, like Social Security Disability Insurance payments.

Filling out these forms every 90 days puts an unnecessary burden on our veterans, violates the intent of the Paperwork Reduction Act, and means that if a veteran misses getting his/her financial statements in on time just once, the government seizes that person’s income!

The VA needs to fix this broken system so that veterans can pay off their medical debt like other Americans and keep the income they need to live.

I propose that payments made on a veteran's debt be applied to the newest invoices first, with the excess going to older debt, so that the new debt doesn't age past the 90 day limit every 90 days. This is how most healthcare companies in America address debt. Also, a website should be set up so that the veteran can update just the information that has changed since his/her last financial statement once per year.

These changes would improve financial freedom, reduce stress for veterans who have served their country, comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act, reduce waste, and save filing space in the Department of Veterans Affairs offices. Join me in asking the Department of Veteran’s affairs to change their medical debt collection policies.

"Any nation that does not honor its heros will not long endure" - Abraham Lincoln

"A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards." - Theodore Roosevelt