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Youngkin vetoes include bipartisan measures to address medical debt issues

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The idea that medical debt collectors might come after people having a hard time making ends meet is concerning to a lot of Republicans and Democrats, who worked together during the General Assembly session to protect Virginians.

Now, the governor has used his veto pen on two of those bills.

Victims of crime who are waiting for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund should not be harassed by debt collectors for medical bills. That’s why Senator Creigh Deeds introduced a bill to do something about it. The Democrat from Bath County got the bill out of the House and the Senate with bipartisan majorities. And then, the governor vetoed it.

"This governor has not figured out yet that governing requires that we all work together," Deeds says. "The bill that he vetoed, my bill, simply provided an enforcement mechanism for a change in the law we made when Republicans had complete control of the General Assembly to protect victims of crime."

That was not the only veto of a bill on medical debt. Freshman Delegate Nadarius Clark, a Democrat from Portsmouth, had a bill with huge bipartisan majorities that would create a new three-year statute of limitations on collecting medical debt. Clark says he worked with Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares on the bill, and it still got vetoed.

"That's why we were even more shocked when the bill was vetoed because we worked with the Attorney General's office when the bill was in the Senate," Clark says. "They gave us some things that we went back and changed, and it still got vetoed."

Overturning a veto takes two thirds in the House and two thirds in the Senate, and it’s very rare. The last time it happened was more than a decade ago, when Bob McDonnell was governor.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.