The Pentagon isn't tracking medical debt among troops despite federal recommendations that it should, and now Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., the chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services Committee's personnel panel, wants to change that.
Warren has been pressing the Pentagon for an update on medical debt and wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in March asking about recommendations from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, that called for better collection of the data to safeguard service members' financial stability and credit ratings.
But Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gil Cisneros sent back this response: The Pentagon doesn't collect data on the medical debt owed by service members and their families. Troops can self-report debt, he added, but “the data is not complete enough to accurately report the extent or amount” of the total medical debt held by personnel.
Cisneros said the Defense Health Agency — the arm of the Pentagon that oversees the military's private health program, Tricare — provides support through counselors and assistance officers to troops with medical claims and issues with debt collection when the bills should have been paid by Tricare.
The response vexed Warren, who underscored the importance of medical debt in a follow-up letter to Austin Sunday. The debt can…