A-21792, APRIL 11, 1928, 7 COMP. GEN. 660

A-21792: Apr 11, 1928

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PAYMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES OF ANY INJURED EMPLOYEE CLAIMING BENEFITS UNDER THE ACT FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXAMINATION OR TREATMENT IS NOT AUTHORIZED. CASES HAVE ARISEN IN WHICH THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER DESIRES AN INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINATION TO ENABLE HIM TO DECIDE UPON THE MERITS OF THE CASE. NO GOVERNMENT MEDICAL FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE PLACE WHERE THE INJURED EMPLOYEE LIVES AND TO HAVE THE EXAMINATION. THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION AND NECESSARY TRAVELING EXPENSES OF THE INJURED MAN WOULD BE NOMINAL AS COMPARED WITH THE COST OF PRIVATE PHYSICIANS' CHARGES IN THE CITY WHERE GOVERNMENT FACILITIES ARE NOT AVAILABLE. INSTANCES HAVE EVEN ARISEN WHERE NO ADEQUATE MEDICAL FACILITIES OF ANY NATURE WHATSOEVER WERE OBTAINABLE AT THE PLACE OF INJURY AND DOMICILE OF THE INJURED EMPLOYEE.

A-21792, APRIL 11, 1928, 7 COMP. GEN. 660

APPROPRIATIONS - TRAVELING EXPENSES - EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION COMMISSION BENEFICIARIES IN THE ABSENCE OF A SPECIFIC PROVISION THEREFOR IN ANY APPROPRIATION MADE FOR THE PURPOSE OF ADMINISTERING THE LONGSHOREMEN'S AND HARBOR WORKERS' COMPENSATION ACT, PAYMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES OF ANY INJURED EMPLOYEE CLAIMING BENEFITS UNDER THE ACT FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXAMINATION OR TREATMENT IS NOT AUTHORIZED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE CHAIRMAN, UNITED STATES EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION COMMISSION, APRIL 11, 1928:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 21, 1928, AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 19 (H) OF THE "LONGSHOREMEN'S AND HARBOR WORKERS'COMPENSATION ACT," APPROVED MARCH 4, 1927 (PUBLIC, NO. 803-- SIXTY-NINTH CONGRESS), PROVIDES THAT "AN INJURED EMPLOYEE CLAIMING OR ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION SHALL SUBMIT TO SUCH PHYSICAL EXAMINATION BY A MEDICAL OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES OR BY A DULY QUALIFIED PHYSICIAN DESIGNATED OR APPROVED BY THE COMMISSION AS THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER MAY REQUIRE * * *.'

CASES HAVE ARISEN IN WHICH THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER DESIRES AN INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINATION TO ENABLE HIM TO DECIDE UPON THE MERITS OF THE CASE. NO GOVERNMENT MEDICAL FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE PLACE WHERE THE INJURED EMPLOYEE LIVES AND TO HAVE THE EXAMINATION, INCLUDING X-RAY AND LABORATORY SERVICE, MADE BY A LOCAL PRIVATE SPECIALIST WOULD INVOLVE AN EXPENSE OF FROM $50 TO $100. HOWEVER, IF THE INJURED EMPLOYEE COULD BE TRANSPORTED TO THE NEAREST UNITED STATES MARINE HOSPITAL A COMPLETE MEDICAL SURVEY COULD BE MADE, AND THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION AND NECESSARY TRAVELING EXPENSES OF THE INJURED MAN WOULD BE NOMINAL AS COMPARED WITH THE COST OF PRIVATE PHYSICIANS' CHARGES IN THE CITY WHERE GOVERNMENT FACILITIES ARE NOT AVAILABLE. ALSO THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER WOULD PROBABLY OBTAIN A MORE COMPLETE REPORT OF EXAMINATION.

INSTANCES HAVE EVEN ARISEN WHERE NO ADEQUATE MEDICAL FACILITIES OF ANY NATURE WHATSOEVER WERE OBTAINABLE AT THE PLACE OF INJURY AND DOMICILE OF THE INJURED EMPLOYEE. IN SUCH CASES WHEN THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER REQUIRES AN EXAMINATION, UNLESS HE CAN AUTHORIZE TRANSPORTATION TO THE NEAREST ADEQUATE MEDICAL FACILITIES, IT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO EMPLOY A SPECIALIST FROM THE NEAREST SOURCE TO VISIT AND EXAMINE THE INJURED EMPLOYEE. THIS PROCEDURE SEEMS AN UNWARRANTED EXTRAVAGANCE, AS FEES IN SUCH CASES ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY LARGE AND MIGHT EASILY COST FROM TEN TO ONE HUNDRED TIMES THE EXPENSE OF SENDING THE EMPLOYEE TO THE PHYSICIAN.

PLEASE ADVISE THE COMMISSION WHETHER, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE TWO CASES AS OUTLINED ABOVE, THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION AND NECESSARY REASONABLE TRAVELING EXPENSES OF THE INJURED MAN MAY BE PAID FROM THE APPROPRIATION "SALARIES AND EXPENSES, U.S. EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION COMMISSION, 1928," WHICH WAS PROVIDED FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF THIS ACT, IN THE FIRST DEFICIENCY ACT, FISCAL YEAR 1928.

SECTION 19 (H) OF THE STATUTE, QUOTED IN PART BY YOU, IS AS FOLLOWS:

(H) AN INJURED EMPLOYEE CLAIMING OR ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION SHALL SUBMIT TO SUCH PHYSICAL EXAMINATION BY A MEDICAL OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES OR BY A DULY QUALIFIED PHYSICIAN DESIGNATED OR APPROVED BY THE COMMISSION AS THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER MAY REQUIRE. THE PLACE OR PLACES SHALL BE REASONABLY CONVENIENT FOR THE EMPLOYEE. SUCH PHYSICIAN OR PHYSICIANS AS THE EMPLOYEE, EMPLOYER, OR CARRIER MAY SELECT AND PAY FOR MAY PARTICIPATE IN AN EXAMINATION IF THE EMPLOYEE, EMPLOYER, OR CARRIER SO REQUESTS. PROCEEDINGS SHALL BE SUSPENDED AND NO COMPENSATION BE PAYABLE FOR ANY PERIOD DURING WHICH THE EMPLOYEE MAY REFUSE TO SUBMIT TO EXAMINATION. (44 STAT. 1436.)

THERE IS NO PROVISION IN ANY APPROPRIATION MADE FOR THE PURPOSES OF ADMINISTERING THE LONGSHOREMEN'S AND HARBOR WORKERS' COMPENSATION ACT FOR THE PAYMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES OF CLAIMANTS UNDER SAID ACT. THE CONGRESS HAS HERETOFORE, IN OTHER ENACTMENTS FOR THE BENEFIT OF INJURED EMPLOYEES, SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED FOR THE PAYMENT OF TRAVELING EXPENSES WHERE IT IS INTENDED THAT THEY SHOULD BE BORNE BY THE UNITED STATES. SEE PARTICULARLY SECTION 21 OF THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 7, 1916, 39 STAT. 747, AND LAST PARAGRAPH OF SECTION 6 OF THE ACT OF JULY 3, 1926, 44 STAT. 907-908. IN THE ABSENCE OF SUCH A SPECIFIC PROVISION IN THE PRESENT ENACTMENT THE PAYMENT OF SUCH TRAVELING EXPENSES WOULD NOT BE AUTHORIZED.