September 30, 2019

Representatives Mike Levin and Mark Meadows Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Support Veterans with Legal Claims Against VA

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA), member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Mark Meadows (R-NC) introduced the bipartisan Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act to support veterans with legal claims against the Department of Veterans Affairs or its contractors. The bill is named after Marine Veteran Brian Tally, who was denied the opportunity to file a medical malpractice claim due to a lack of transparency and efficiency at the VA. The VA failed to inform Tally that his doctor was a contractor and that his claim had to be filed in state court until after the statute of limitations had expired.

The Brian Tally VA Transparency Act requires the VA, within 30 days of a veteran submitting a claim, to provide notice of the importance of securing legal counsel; the employment status of any individual involved in the claim; and the statute of limitations in the relevant state if the claim involves a contractor.

“Veterans who have sacrificed for our country deserve the highest quality health care, and they should have every opportunity to seek recourse if they are harmed as a result of substandard medical treatment,” said Representative Levin. “No veteran should have to experience what Brian Tally went through. This bill will help ensure that veterans receive the information they need to make timely decisions about their legal options, and I am grateful to Congressman Meadows for his partnership on this effort.”

“We owe our veterans the absolute best healthcare we can provide, so it’s both heartbreaking and unacceptable to read about stories like that of Brian Tally,” said Representative Meadows. “What happened to Brian, and others like him, must never be allowed to happen again. It’s our responsibility to make sure we provide our veterans all of the information they need to make quick, informed decisions about their healthcare, and hold our government accountable to make sure we get our servicemembers high quality care. I want to thank my colleague, Rep. Levin, for his partnership on this effort – as well as Brian Tally for his leadership on bringing attention to such a critical need. My hope is that with this bill, we can take another step in that process of better stepping up to serve our veterans.” 

“I am deeply grateful for this bipartisan effort to increase accountability and transparency within the VA,” said Marine Veteran Brian Tally. “Veterans who receive treatment at VA hospitals and clinics must have the information they need to file medical malpractice or negligence claims when necessary. This bill is a huge step toward closing a loophole that has prevented veterans and their families from receiving justice, and I am hopeful that more Democrats and Republicans will come together for the "Good of the Country" like Congressmen Levin and Meadows have done in an effort to pass this extremely important veteran legislation.”

In January 2016, Brian Tally began experiencing debilitating back pain, and sought care at the Loma Linda VA. The doctor diagnosed him with a lower back sprain, denied a blood test or MRI, and prescribed painkillers. In March 2016, his family paid for an MRI outside of VA, which revealed he had been given a near fatal misdiagnosis. Instead of a lower back sprain, Tally had structural damage to his back, and his ensuing surgery revealed a bone-eating staph infection that was destroying his spine.

Tally filed a tort claim with VA for medical malpractice and gross neglect. After nearly a year, he was told that the doctor was not a VA employee, but an independent contractor, so he would need to file in state court. At that point the statute of limitations had passed, leaving Tally and his family without any options for recourse over the suffering he experienced. The bipartisan Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act would help prevent that from happening to any other veterans.