Marine Brian Tally survived VA malpractice. He's determined not to let it happen to any of his fellow brothers and sisters in arms.
Part of that mission is making sure that the Department of Veterans Affairs and its employees are held accountable.
On Thursday, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. and Rep. Mike Levin, D-Calif., introduced the Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act to support veterans with legal claims against the VA and its contractors.
The bill is named after Tally, who was denied the chance to file a medical malpractice claim because of "a lack of transparency and efficiency at the VA."
The VA failed to tell Tally that his doctor was a contractor -- and that he had to file his claim in state court -- until after the statute of limitations had already passed, Tally said. The bill would ensure veterans have all the information they need from the beginning, so they don't end up like Tally.
"We have come a very long way in our efforts in changing an outdated law that has dishonored veterans and their families for generations," Tally told Connecting Vets. "Our tireless work, dedication and commitment to this cause is nearing the finish line. My mission has been clear, consistent and positive from the very beginning, and that's protecting all veterans who seek treatment at all VA hospitals and clinics."
“No veteran should have to experience what Brian Tally went through," Levin said. "This bill will help ensure that veterans receive the information they need to make timely decisions about their legal options."
Tally said he was grateful for the chance to hold VA accountable with the new legislation. This is the third bill Tally has helped introduce to Congress in less than a year.
"Veterans who receive treatment at VA hospitals and clinics must have the information they need to file medical malpractice or negligence claims when necessary," he said. "This bill is a huge step forward toward closing a loophole that has prevented veterans and their families from receiving justice."
In 2016, Tally began experiencing what he called "debilitating" back pain and sought care at the Loma Linda, Calif., VA. The doctor there diagnosed him with a lower-back sprain, did not perform a blood test or an MRI and prescribed pain killers. Two months later, Tally's family paid for him to have an MRI outside the VA, which showed the VA had missed a near-fatal diagnosis.
Tally did not have a lower-back sprain. He had structural damage to his back and a later surgery showed a bone-eating staph infection that was "destroying" his spine, he said.
Tally filed a tort claim with the VA for medical malpractice and "gross negligence." After nearly a year, he was told that the doctor who originally diagnosed him was not a VA employee, but a contractor, so he would need to file his claim in state court. But the statute of limitations had already passed, leaving Tally and his family out of options.
This bill "would help prevent that from happening to any other veterans," Tally said.
For more information, Tally has a Facebook page for updates on the legislation: Rally Around Tally.