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November 09, 2017

King Backs Bills to Protect Veterans’ Credit Ratings, Educational Opportunities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today announced support for two pieces of legislation that would protect veterans credit ratings and educational opportunities respectively. The Protecting Veterans Credit Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), would protect the credit ratings of veterans wrongly penalized by medical bill payment delays by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Military and Veterans Education Protection Act prevents targeting of veterans by low-quality, for-profit universities by closing the loophole that allows for-profit schools to avoid securing at least 10 percent of their revenue from non-federal sources. The current loophole excludes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DOD) education funds, like the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Tuition Assistance (TA), from being counted as federal funds.

            “Our nation’s veterans have defended our country with honor and distinction, and deserve every opportunity to get a quality education, buy a house, or take out a loan,” Senator King said. “No veteran should be penalized because of bureaucratic delays at the VA, or be targeted by the predatory practices of some for-profit schools. It’s our duty to protect them when they return home as they have protected us. These commonsense bills will support the men and women who answered the call to serve in the defense of our freedom.”

The Protecting Veterans Credit Act would prohibit medical debt from services received through the Choice Program and other VA community care programs from being reported to credit reporting agencies for one year. This delay provides adequate time for the VA and its contractors to resolve any issues related to inappropriate assignment of debt. The bill would also allow veterans to dispute and remove adverse actions already on their reports. Impacted veterans could submit a notice along with proof that the VA is liable for the debt to a consumer reporting agency (CRA). The CRA would then have to delete all information relating to the veterans’ medical debt from their file and notify the furnishers and the veterans that they have done so.

More than two decades ago, Republican President George H.W. Bush signed a bipartisan law that limited how much federal funding for-profit schools may receive from taxpayers. Now called the 90/10 rule, this limit requires for-profit schools to obtain at least 10 percent of their revenues from non-federal sources. Some for-profit schools exploit this 90/10 loophole by using aggressive recruitment practices and deceptive marketing tools to enroll servicemembers, veterans and other GI Bill beneficiaries. The Military and Veterans Education Protection Act would close the 90/10 loophole by counting VA and DOD funds as federal dollars.

Since arriving in Washington, Senator King has been a strong advocate for veterans issues. Through his work on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator King has supported multiple amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that support American veterans. In the Fiscal Year 2018 NDAA, Senator King cosponsored an amendment authored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) that would encourage cooperation and integration between the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense with their electronic health care record systems to improve the transition from active duty to veteran status and ensure that veterans won’t have to wait to gain access to the health care services they have earned. He also supported an amendment authored by Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) that would encourage the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense to assess the feasibility of establishing a joint office to house an interagency task force on suicide prevention. Senator King supports the coordination between the departments so that those who have served do not slip through the cracks. He is a strong supporter of the Veterans Choice Program, which helps veterans across Maine and the nation receive health care within their communities and allows veterans in Northern Maine to continue to utilize community care as they did under the Access Received Closer to Home (ARCH) pilot. In August, the President signed into law Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, legislation he cosponsored that would overhaul the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) appeals process.

Senator King’s support for the two bills comes ahead of Veterans Day weekend, where Senator King will honor the dedication and sacrifice of Maine veterans. Tomorrow, he will participate in the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting of the Maine Troop Greeters Museum at Bangor International Airport, who have welcomed more than 1.5 million troops flying through Bangor International Airport on the way to or returning from deployment.

Following the grand opening, Senator King will travel to Penobscot Indian Island Reservation to present Charles Norman Shay with a flag flown over the United States Capitol. Mr. Shay is a Penobscot Tribal Elder and a veteran of World War II who served as a medic during the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6th, 1944. Mr. Shay was awarded a Silver Star for his service, and earlier this year the ‘Charles Shay Indian Memorial’ was dedicated in Normandy, France to honor of the service of Native Americans who participated in Operation Neptune for the liberation of Normandy in World War II. After presenting Mr. Shay with the flag, Senator King will visit with community members on Indian Island.

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