CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act Tuesday by a vote of 86 to 8. The NDAA includes a provision that, for the first time, will pave the way for soldiers to be compensated for negligent medical care.
Bipartisan lawmakers have credited the "heroic advocacy" of North Carolina Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal, and a yearlong series of FOX 46 investigations, for getting results. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the defense spending bill as early as Wednesday.
Stayskal is battling stage 4 lung cancer and has been a catalyst for the "landmark legislation," which advocates say will improve the quality of care for active-duty military while holding negligent doctors accountable for botched care at military hospitals unrelated to combat or training.
The measure allocates $400 million to the Dept. of Defense over the next decade to internally investigate, and pay out, military medical malpractice claims made after January 2017 - the same month Stayskal initially received his botched care. It does not undue the controversial Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court ruling which prevents soldiers from suing the government for malpractice.
Doctors at Womack Army Medical Center initially, and erroneously diagnosed Stayskal's lung cancer as pneumonia, records show. He was finally allowed to see a civilian doctor six months in June 2017. The physician confirmed Stayskal had cancer, which had spread. He has a wife and two young daughters.
The House overwhelmingly passed the NDAA last week.
This is a developing story.