WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), members of the Senate Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, introduced the Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act, bipartisan legislation requiring the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide explicit, timely information in response to legal claims filed by veterans against the VA. The senators’ legislation is named after Marine Veteran Brian Tally, who was unable to file a medical malpractice claim against his doctor because the VA failed to inform him – until after the statute of limitations had passed – that his doctor was a contractor and his claim needed to be filed in state court, leaving him with no legal recourse.
“Our veterans deserve the highest quality of care, regardless of where they receive that care or who provides it. Unfortunately, medical malpractice remains an issue at hospitals across the country, and veterans should have due process rights if they experience malpractice,” said Tillis. “This bill ensures that veterans have the information they need to receive justice, whether they were treated by a VA employee or a contractor, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this bill signed into law.”
“This bipartisan, bicameral bill will rectify the VA’s gross administrative neglect and restore legal options to our country’s veterans when they are wronged by the VA or a VA contractor,” said Blumenthal. “It is simply unacceptable that the VA is failing to properly notify our country’s veterans about their options when they file legal claims, essentially robbing them of their rights. Veterans must have the ability to seek legal recourse in cases of medical malpractice or other negligence – period.”
Tillis and Blumenthal’s legislation would require that, within 30 days of a claim being filed, the VA notify the veteran filing the claim about the importance of getting legal counsel and the employment status of the person they are filing the claim against. If this person is a contractor, the VA would also need to inform the veteran about the importance of obtaining legal advice as to the statute of limitations in the state in which the claim arose. This bill is a companion to bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in September 2019, led by U.S. Representatives Mike Levin (D-CA) and Mark Meadows (R-NC).
The full text of the legislation can be found here.