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H.R. 3705 - Veterans Fair Debt Notice Act of 2017

Introduced: 2017-11-09
Bill Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
 

(This measure has not been amended since it was reported to the House on November 7, 2017. The summary of that version is repeated here.)

Veterans Fair Debt Notice Act of 2017

(Sec. 2) This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to collaborate with veterans service organizations to write a standard letter to be provided to individuals who owe debts to the VA. Such letter shall be written in plain language and shall include a notice of the debt and a clear explanation of: (1) why the individual owes such money, and (2) available options.

The VA shall develop a method by which individuals may elect to receive debt notification letters by electronic means and shall ensure that the letter is delivered: (1) by both standard mail and electronic means to individuals who have made such election, and (2) only by standard mail to individuals who have not made such election.

The VA shall: (1) notify Congress regarding the completion of such letter, and (2) study and report to Congress on the process by which it notifies veterans of debt collection efforts.

Full Text


115th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 3705


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

November 9, 2017

    Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs


AN ACT

    To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to require the use of certified mail and plain language in certain debt collection activities.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Veterans Fair Debt Notice Act of 2017”.

SEC. 2. Department of Veterans Affairs notice relating to debt collection activities.

(a) Debt notification letters.—The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall collaborate with veterans service organizations to write a standard letter to be provided to individuals who the Secretary determines owe debts to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Such letter shall be written in plain language and shall include a notice of the debt and a clear explanation of—

(1) why the individual owes money to the Department of Veterans Affairs; and

(2) the options available to the individual.

(b) Delivery of letters.—The Secretary shall develop a method by which individuals may elect to receive debt notification letters by electronic means and shall ensure, to the extent practicable, that the letter developed under subsection (a) is delivered to intended recipients who have made such an election by both standard mail and by electronic means and to intended recipients who have not made such an election only by standard mail.

(c) Notice to Congress.—

(1) NOTICE OF COMPLETION.—Upon completion of the letter required under subsection (a), the Secretary shall submit to Congress notice of the completion of the letter.

(2) PROGRESS REPORTS.—If the Secretary has not submitted the notice required by paragraph (1) by the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall—

(A) submit to Congress a report describing the progress of the Secretary toward implementing subsection (a) and an explanation for why the letter has not been completed; and

(B) every 30 days thereafter until the submittal of the notice required by paragraph (1), submit to Congress an update to the report under subparagraph (A) that includes an additional explanation for the failure to complete the letter.

(d) Study; report.—

(1) STUDY.—The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall conduct a study on the process by which the Department of Veterans Affairs notifies veterans of debt collection efforts. Such study shall include—

(A) an analysis of the scope of the problem of veterans not receiving debt collection notices;

(B) a description of any non-legislative actions the Secretary could take to reduce the number of incorrect or unknown addresses of veterans in the databases of the Department and a timeline for adopting such actions; and

(C) an estimate of the costs associated with sending debt collection notices by certified mail.

(2) REPORT.—Not later than 12 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report on the study conducted under paragraph (1).

Passed the House of Representatives November 8, 2017.

    Attest:karen l. haas,   
    Clerk

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