Blumenthal & Tillis Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Help Veterans With Legal Claims Against VA

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), members of the Senate Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, introduced the Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act today, 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.

“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.”

“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.”

"I am incredibly honored to have Senator Blumenthal take the Senate lead on this landmark Veteran legislation and introduce this extraordinary VA accountability and transparency bill that will protect all Veterans who seek treatment at VA Hospitals and Clinics,” said Tally. “We have energetically and positively engaged Congress and have sought out motivated members of the Senate to be a Champion for all Veterans. 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 look forward to working with the Senate VA Committee, Senate Republicans, and Senate Democrats to ensure the successful passage of the Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act. Together as one, we can, and we will see this through!" 

Blumenthal and Tillis’ 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).

“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 Levin. “The VA Employment Transparency Act ensures that veterans have the information they need to make timely decisions about their legal options so they never experience what Brian Tally went through. I am proud that this important bill passed unanimously through the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and I am very grateful for Senator Blumenthal’s partnership in the Senate.”

The full text of the legislation can be found here.