New bill aims to protect veterans from lousy VA contractors

Matt Saintsing
October 31, 2018 - 12:47 pm

Photo Courtesy of Brian Tally

Brian Tally says he received severely sloppy care at the VA leaving him with permanent injuries so brutal that he's unable to work. And due to a legal loophole, he's left powerless to go after the doctors for medical malpractice. 

But H.R 7105 introduced Tuesday by Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) would ensure future veterans permanently hurt at the hands of VA independent contractors could sue for medical malpractice. Known as the "Tally Bill," the measure would also increase accountability for both VA employees and contractors who provide care to vets. 

“Brian experienced injustice at the hands of an independent contractor, and due to a public policy loophole he was never able to be fully compensated for his injuries,” says Brat. “This is wrong, and my legislation would ensure it does not happen to veterans in the future.” 

In August, Connecting Vets reported on a VA misdiagnosis and delays for care that nearly killed Tally, a Marine Corps veteran. Since then, he's been on a mission garnering attention on Capitol Hill in the hopes that lawmakers, could be law changers. 

He woke up one January morning in 2016 with excruciating back pain. But due to neglect, and according to Tally, medical malpractice, the treatment he experienced at a VA facility in Loma Linda, Calif., left him with permanent spinal injuries. 

A physician who contracts with the VA gave Tally a bag of pills and sent him on his way. Only after Tally paid out of pocket for an MRI did he learn that a massive staph infection had eaten away at his spine. 

Photo Courtesy of Brian Tally

A simple blood test would have led doctors to a correct diagnosis, but because their failure to act ensured the infection settled in his back for months and slowly devoured his spine. 

The infection left Tally unable to work and even walk without assistance. 

VA ultimately determined the legal responsibility rests on the shoulders of the physician, an independent contractor. By the time Tally found this out, the statute of limitations had already run out, barring him from receiving any compensation. 

If the doctor were a VA employee, however, Tally would have had enough time to bring his case to federal court. 

The bill would bring independent contractors who provide care to veterans through the VA under the same purview of VA physicians, so those who receive a sub-standard level of care will not be left on their own. 

“I hope my story will be the last and that all of the pain and suffering my family and I have endured can go into passing a new bill to protect all of the honorable veterans in our country,” Tally tells Connecting Vets. 

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