Hello, VA Hospital System? Ensure EVERY day is a Veteran’s Day by Forgiving Unpaid and Unpayable Medical Debt!
You Can Do It. Let’s Talk!
For years now I have personally attempted to catch your attention to this need, and for years now I have yet to be successful. That’s going to change. I am going to enlist help.
Here’s why that help will be easy to secure for this project: a wrong needs to be righted. People with a service background are eager to right those wrongs. Millions of Americans who prize the military and their sacrifices are interested in righting wrongs.
Here’s a partial list of those wrongs — each of them with healthcare debt at their core:
1. Nonprofit and private hospitals are required to follow federal and state charity laws and write off the bad debt of the qualified poor.
2. Federal facilities instead must take “prompt and aggressive action” to settle all debts. Charity laws do not apply.
3. Once a debt is transferred to the U.S. Treasury for collection, VA hospitals are unlikely to interfere with their collection process.
4. Treasury can: (a) withhold wages; (b) attach tax refunds and 15% of a person’s social security income without a court order.
5. Unpaid balances are subject to interest payments, administrative fees and other penalties.
6. The VA generally will not pay a health bill generated at a civilian facility, unless the veteran is more than 50 percent disabled or the offsite visit was for an illness that is service related.
7. Other vets without insurance may end up with big bills if their illness is not service-related. Their private insurance may require them first to meet a deductible or pay coinsurance — and the VA does not reimburse for those expenses.
8. The only way to get “free” healthcare from the VA is if you have an injury or disability caused by their military service and is severe enough to rate you 50% disabled. Oh, and there is an income verification process.
9. VA health coverage isn’t set in stone and isn’t the same for every vet.
10. $1 BILLION is determined to be owed by America’s vets and military at this moment in time.
This is not the way for America to say, “Thank you for your service.”
There is a way out for the VA — make those files available for forgiveness
The charity I co-founded with my collections industry colleague, Craig Antico, can play a major role in that happening. In fact, since the founding of RIP Medical Debt in 2014, we have already abolished at least $100,000,000 in vet and active-duty service personnel medical debt.
But, that is out of a total of $5 BILLION we have abolished for the general public over that time. It is estimated that as much as $6 BILLION in veteran debt is still owed by the VA!
That brave effort caught the attention of the Military Times — but not the VA or even the Pentagon. However, today there is a very public precedent set by the federal government which can make it easier to pry the VA’s cold fingers from its filing cabinets full of old bills, however.
The Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General released in July of 2020 an advisory opinion to allow RIP Medical Debt to purchase (or accept as a donation) medical debt from hospitals and large physicians groups. This ruling protects these entities from being sanctioned for federal anti-kickback or civil monetary penalties.
Let’s follow the important credo I learned so many years ago. Let’s leave no one behind…in debt.
(Jerry Ashton is a Navy veteran serving from 1955–1959 as a Journalist 2nd Class serving various aboard the heavy cruiser USS Bremerton CA-130, at the Barber’s Point Naval Air Station and completing at the Port Hueneme CA Seabee base. And that good looking Colonel (ret.) standing next to me? Mikel Burroughs who was the first fellow vet brought on board RIP Medical Debt and now its Director of Military Debt Acquisitions and Relief)