A-17566, MARCH 7, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 566

A-17566: Mar 7, 1927

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VETERANS' BUREAU - COMMITMENT OF MENTALLY INCOMPETENT BENEFICIARIES WHERE IT IS NECESSARY UNDER STATE OR COUNTY LAWS TO COMMIT A MENTALLY INCOMPETENT BENEFICIARY OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU TO AN INDIVIDUAL IN ORDER THAT THE GOVERNMENT MAY OBTAIN JURISDICTION AND CONTROL OF THE BENEFICIARY FOR PURPOSES OF CARE AND TREATMENT IN A GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL. THE PROPER AND LAWFUL EXPENSE INCIDENT TO THE COMMITMENT IS A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE APPROPRIATION "MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES. REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER APPROPRIATIONS UNDER THE VETERAN'S BUREAU ARE PROPERLY CHARGEABLE WITH EXPENSES INCIDENT TO COMMITMENT OF MENTALLY INCOMPETENT BENEFICIARIES TO AN INDIVIDUAL. IT HAS BEEN THE PRACTICE FOR SOME TIME TO COMMIT INSANE EX-SERVICE MEN TO THE CARE AND CUSTODY OF A MEDICAL OFFICER OF THIS BUREAU FOR THE REASON THAT IT WAS DESIRED TO HOSPITALIZE THESE PARTICULAR MEN IN VETERANS' BUREAU HOSPITALS AND INASMUCH AS VETERANS' BUREAU HOSPITALS IN THAT STATE AT LEAST ARE NOT LICENSED INSTITUTIONS FOR THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF INSANE PERSONS.

A-17566, MARCH 7, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 566

VETERANS' BUREAU - COMMITMENT OF MENTALLY INCOMPETENT BENEFICIARIES WHERE IT IS NECESSARY UNDER STATE OR COUNTY LAWS TO COMMIT A MENTALLY INCOMPETENT BENEFICIARY OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU TO AN INDIVIDUAL IN ORDER THAT THE GOVERNMENT MAY OBTAIN JURISDICTION AND CONTROL OF THE BENEFICIARY FOR PURPOSES OF CARE AND TREATMENT IN A GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL, THE PROPER AND LAWFUL EXPENSE INCIDENT TO THE COMMITMENT IS A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE APPROPRIATION "MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES, VETERANS' BUREAU.'

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, MARCH 7, 1927:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 25, 1927, REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER APPROPRIATIONS UNDER THE VETERAN'S BUREAU ARE PROPERLY CHARGEABLE WITH EXPENSES INCIDENT TO COMMITMENT OF MENTALLY INCOMPETENT BENEFICIARIES TO AN INDIVIDUAL, RATHER THAN TO AN INSTITUTION, IN COOK COUNTY, ILL.

YOU STATE AS FOLLOWS:

IN THE COUNTY OF COOK, STATE OF ILLINOIS, IT HAS BEEN THE PRACTICE FOR SOME TIME TO COMMIT INSANE EX-SERVICE MEN TO THE CARE AND CUSTODY OF A MEDICAL OFFICER OF THIS BUREAU FOR THE REASON THAT IT WAS DESIRED TO HOSPITALIZE THESE PARTICULAR MEN IN VETERANS' BUREAU HOSPITALS AND INASMUCH AS VETERANS' BUREAU HOSPITALS IN THAT STATE AT LEAST ARE NOT LICENSED INSTITUTIONS FOR THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF INSANE PERSONS, THE COURTS OF THAT STATE ARE WITHOUT JURISDICTION TO COMMIT INDIVIDUALS TO GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS. IT IS NECESSARY THAT COMMITMENTS BE MADE TO AN INDIVIDUAL OR TO A STATE INSTITUTION OR A LICENSED PRIVATE INSTITUTION FOR THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF INSANE PERSONS.

SECTION 202 (3) OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF JULY 2, 1926, 44 STAT. 795, INCLUDES AS AN EXPENSE OF GOVERNMENTAL MEDICAL, SURGICAL, AND HOSPITAL SERVICES "PAYMENT OF COURT COSTS AND OTHER EXPENSES INCIDENT TO PROCEEDINGS HERETOFORE OR HEREAFTER TAKEN FOR COMMITMENT OF MENTALLY INCOMPETENT PERSONS TO HOSPITALS FOR CARE AND TREATMENT OF THE INSANE.' A SIMILAR PROVISION APPEARS IN THE SAME SECTION, SUBPARAGRAPH (6), AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1925, 43 STAT. 1306, WHEREIN THE WORD "INSTITUTIONS" IS USED IN LIEU OF THE WORD "HOSPITALS.' A SIMILAR PROVISION ALSO APPEARS IN THE ANNUAL APPROPRIATION ACTS PROVIDING FOR MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES, WHEREIN THE WORD "HOSPITALS" IS USED. SEE ACT OF APRIL 22, 1926, 44 STAT. 320, FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1927, AND THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 11, 1927, 44 STAT. 1084, FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1928.

IT IS CONTEMPLATED THAT MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES FOR BENEFICIARIES OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU SHALL BE FURNISHED PRIMARILY THROUGH GOVERNMENTAL FACILITIES. YOU DO NOT STATE THE REASON FOR THE FACT, IF SUCH IT BE, THAT GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS IN ILLINOIS ARE NOT LICENSED INSTITUTIONS FOR THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF INSANE PERSONS. BUT IF IT IS NECESSARY UNDER STATE OR COUNTY LAWS TO COMMIT A MENTALLY INCOMPETENT BENEFICIARY TO AN INDIVIDUAL IN ORDER THAT THE GOVERNMENT MAY OBTAIN JURISDICTION AND CONTROL OF THE BENEFICIARY FOR THE PURPOSE OF CARE AND TREATMENT IN A GOVERNMENTAL INSTITUTION IN PREFERENCE TO A STATE INSTITUTION, THE LAWFUL EXPENSES INCURRED INCIDENT TO THE COMMITMENT TO THE INDIVIDUAL WOULD REASONABLY COME WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT AND THE APPROPRIATION ACTS. IN SUCH CASE THE ULTIMATE OBJECT IS THE COMMITMENT TO AN INSTITUTION OR HOSPITAL FOR THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF THE BENEFICIARIES, AND THE COMMITMENT TO AN INDIVIDUAL WOULD BE BUT ONE NECESSARY STEP IN THE PROCEEDING.