The Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act Gains Momentum
Marine veteran Brian Tally woke up one morning in 2016 will severe, debilitating back pain. Unable to stand or walk, he immediately sought help at the VA. Though Tally believed otherwise at the time, the specific practice he attended was not that of a VA doctor, but an independent contractor. The doctor made an incorrect diagnosis and denied Tally critical care for months.
After Tally and his family were forced to pay out-of-pocket for private care to further investigate his medical problems, it was discovered that he had a life-threatening, bone-eating staph infection that was destroying his spine. “If I waited, I would have died,” said Tally as he retold this story.
Though VA officials ultimately admitted that Tally received second-rate care, a 73-year-old loophole allowed them to deflect responsibility for malpractice. With no legal options, Tally and his family were crushed. The loss of their family car, small business, and Tally’s employment were not to be remedied by the VA, even though they had admitted wrongdoing.
Tally’s brush with a life-threatening illness and the consequences that ensued, inspired his ongoing efforts to affect change for all veterans. Mr. Tally has been fighting for two and a half years, with four bill introductions to date. He knows that what happened to him, could happen to any veteran. “This hurt my family and I really bad and people can see my tenacious effort and my motivation through my actions and positive engagement,” Tally says.
Now, two and a half years into his fight, he’s had yet another bill introduced in the Senate, signaling bipartisan support for his cause. The new bill, dubbed The Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act, if passed would allow any veteran or family member who has filed a claim for the VA for damage, injury, or death, to be entitled to receive, within 30 days, a notice from the VA about legal counsel, and the employment status of anyone involved in the case. The latter provision would let the person filing the claim know if their doctor was a direct VA employee or a contractor.
If the bill moves forward in the House and Senate, it would likely end up on President Trump’s desk. The president has recently signed a number of bills helping veterans, specifically those regarding suicide prevention and mental health issues. His chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has also voiced support for the bill.
Though chances of success are strong if the bill reaches The White House, time is somewhat limited as the number of legislative days on the calendar are dwindling. If it does not pass this session, it would have to move to the first session of 2021.
While The Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act jumps through the necessary hoops in congress, there is also another bill on the floor named after Tally. The Brian Tally VA medical Care and Liability Improvement Act is also in Congress and would ensure that health care contractors at the VA be subject to federal tort claims, which would improve the accountability of these physicians.