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Sen. Toomey bill would allow veterans to sue VA employees

PTRTOOMEY2031514
James Knox | Tribune-Review
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh County, speaks with Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editors and reporters on Friday, March 14, 2014.

Federal workers who falsify or deliberately omit key details of veterans’ health records could face personal legal action under a bill expected Tuesday by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley. The VA Accountability Act would ban workers in the Department of Veterans Affairs from manipulating or intentionally withholding a veteran’s health information from the affected patient. The bill also would make it illegal for VA workers to withhold health records with the intention of misleading federal officials or Congress. Workers who break the rule could be sued directly by the affected veterans, according to the bill. Toomey was not immediately available for comment. He planned to announce the bill Tuesday morning in southeastern Pennsylvania, an aide said.

The announcement comes as the VA falls under growing scrutiny in Phoenix, where published reports suggest 40 veterans died while waiting for VA health care. Federal investigators there are reviewing allegations of a secret waiting list. A congressional hearing in Pittsburgh last September centered on alleged malpractice at several other VA systems, including the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System in Oakland and O’Hara. At least six veterans died and 16 others were sickened in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in 2011 and 2012 at the Pittsburgh VA. Relatives of some victims believe their loved ones’ VA medical records were left incomplete.

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