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Blumenthal & Tillis Applaud Senate Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Help Veterans With Legal Claims Against VA

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), members of the Senate Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, applauded Senate passage of legislation based on the Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act, which was approved by last night as part of the Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act.

The bipartisan Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act requires 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, introduced in November, 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. The Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act will next be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This bipartisan legislation 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.”

“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.”

"What an emotional roller coaster ride,” said Tally. “I’ve dedicated my life to this and have worked tirelessly for over 2 1/2 years to ensure the successful passage of this extremely important bill. I'm still trying to process this moment and take it all in as we are mere days away from making veteran transparency history at the highest levels of the Department of Veterans Affairs. We are honored that Senators Blumenthal and Tillis have both answered this call to service, in a bi-partisan fashion. They are playing a monumental role in effectively closing a 74 year VA legal loophole that has destroyed the lives of Veterans and their families for generations. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!"

The bill requires that, within 90 days of a claim being filed, the VA notify the veteran filing the claim about the benefit 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.