A-26998, MAY 16, 1929, 8 COMP. GEN. 607

A-26998: May 16, 1929

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ONE OF THE CONDITIONS PRECEDENT TO SUCH HOSPITALIZATION IS THE "CONSENT" OF "THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVING CONTROL OF SUCH OTHER HOSPITALS.'. IN RECOGNITION OF THE SITUATION ARISING WHEN SUCH PERSONS DIE IN NAVAL HOSPITALS AND THEIR REMAINS ARE NOT CLAIMED BY RELATIVES. THE EXPENSES OF FUNERAL AND BURIAL ARE ASSUMED BY THE NAVY DEPARTMENT WITH SUBSEQUENT REIMBURSEMENT FROM THE PAY DUE THE DECEASED AT TIME OF DEATH. IT IS EVIDENT THAT THE BENEFITS INTENDED TO BE CONVEYED BY THE ACT OF JANUARY 19. WILL BE LOST. IS DEPENDENT ON THE DETERMINATION OF THIS QUESTION OF FUNERAL EXPENSES. PROMPT ACTION WILL BE APPRECIATED. PROVIDES: THAT HEREAFTER THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY MAY PROVIDE FOR THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF NAVAL PATIENTS ON THE ACTIVE OR RETIRED LIST AND MEMBERS OF THE NAVAL RESERVE OR MARINE CORPS RESERVE ENTITLED TO TREATMENT IN NAVAL HOSPITALS IN OTHER GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS WHEN APPROPRIATE NAVAL HOSPITAL FACILITIES ARE NOT AVAILABLE AND THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVING CONTROL OF SUCH OTHER HOSPITALS CONSENT THERETO.

A-26998, MAY 16, 1929, 8 COMP. GEN. 607

BURIAL EXPENSES THE ACT OF JANUARY 19, 1929, 45 STAT. 1090, DOES NOT AUTHORIZE THE NAVY DEPARTMENT TO ASSUME EXPENSES OF FUNERAL AND BURIAL OF RETIRED OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN OR OF TRANSFERRED MEMBERS OF THE FLEET NAVAL RESERVE AND FLEET MARINE CORPS RESERVE (INACTIVE OR RETIRED), WHO DIE WHILE NAVAL PATIENTS IN OTHER GOVERNMENTS HOSPITALS. SUCH EXPENSES MAY BE PAID ONLY AS AUTHORIZED PRIOR TO THE ACT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, MAY 16, 1929:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED BY YOUR FIRST INDORSEMENT OF APRIL 22, 1929, A LETTER DATED APRIL 16, 1929, FROM THE BUREAU OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY, AS FOLLOWS:

1. THE ACT APPROVED JANUARY 19, 1929 (REF. A), MAKES PROVISION (SUBJECT TO CERTAIN CONDITIONS) FOR THE CARE AND TREATMENT IN GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS, OTHER THAN NAVAL, OF NAVAL PATIENTS ON THE ACTIVE OR RETIRED LIST AND MEMBERS OF THE NAVAL RESERVE AND MARINE CORPS RESERVE, OR, MORE SPECIFICALLY, FOR THE FOLLOWING CLASSES OF PERSONNEL:

(A) OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN OF THE NAVY AND MARINE CORPS ON THE ACTIVE RETIRED LIST;

(B) OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN OF THE NAVAL RESERVE AND MARINE CORPS RESERVE WHILE EMPLOYED ON ACTIVE DUTY;

(C) TRANSFERRED MEMBERS OF THE FLEET NAVAL RESERVE AND FLEET MARINE CORPS RESERVE, WHETHER ON ACTIVE DUTY, IN AN INACTIVE STATUS, OR ON THE RETIRED LIST OF THE REGULAR NAVY.

2. ONE OF THE CONDITIONS PRECEDENT TO SUCH HOSPITALIZATION IS THE "CONSENT" OF "THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVING CONTROL OF SUCH OTHER HOSPITALS.' IN ACCORDANCE THEREWITH THIS BUREAU MADE APPLICATION TO THE VETERANS' BUREAU FOR THE HOSPITALIZATION OF A RETIRED NAVAL OFFICER SUFFERING FROM TUBERCULOSIS, A DISEASE FOR WHICH THE NAVY AT PRESENT HAS NO HOSPITAL IN SUITABLE CLIMATIC LOCATION. IN AGREEING TO ADMIT THE OFFICER, HOWEVER, THE VETERANS' BUREAU (ENCLOSURE A) STIPULATES, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THAT IN EVENT OF THE PATIENT'S DEATH THE NAVY DEPARTMENT SHALL ASSUME ALL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE CARE AND DISPOSITION OF HIS REMAINS.

3. THE LANGUAGE OF THE BUREAU'S APPROPRIATION,"CARE OF THE DEAD," HAS BEEN CONSTRUED TO PROHIBIT PAYMENT OF EXPENSES FOR CARE OF THE REMAINS OF RETIRED AND INACTIVE PERSONNEL, BUT, IN RECOGNITION OF THE SITUATION ARISING WHEN SUCH PERSONS DIE IN NAVAL HOSPITALS AND THEIR REMAINS ARE NOT CLAIMED BY RELATIVES, THE EXPEDIENT INDICATED BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S DECISION OF MARCH 19, 1928 (1925) (ENCLOSURE C), HAS BEEN ADOPTED I.E., THE EXPENSES OF FUNERAL AND BURIAL ARE ASSUMED BY THE NAVY DEPARTMENT WITH SUBSEQUENT REIMBURSEMENT FROM THE PAY DUE THE DECEASED AT TIME OF DEATH. THIS PROCEDURE MAY BE FOLLOWED, HOWEVER, ONLY WHEN DEATH OCCURS IN A NAVAL HOSPITAL.

4. UNLESS SOME PROVISION MAY BE MADE FOR CARE OF THE REMAINS OF RETIRED AND INACTIVE NAVAL PATIENTS WHO MAY DIE WHILE UNDER TREATMENT IN OTHER GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS, IT IS EVIDENT THAT THE BENEFITS INTENDED TO BE CONVEYED BY THE ACT OF JANUARY 19, 1929, WILL BE LOST, IN SO FAR AS CONCERNS HOSPITALS UNDER THE VETERANS' BUREAU. THE BUREAU THEREFORE REQUESTS THAT THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL BE ASKED TO DECIDE WHETHER THE NAVY DEPARTMENT MAY ASSUME THE FUNERAL AND BURIAL EXPENSES OF RETIRED OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN (INACTIVE) AND OF TRANSFERRED MEMBERS OF THE FLEET RESERVES (INACTIVE OR RETIRED) WHO DIE WHILE NAVAL PATIENTS IN OTHER GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS.

5. AS THE HOSPITALIZATION OF ENSIGN WILLIAM B. RIGSBY, U.S.N. RETIRED, IS DEPENDENT ON THE DETERMINATION OF THIS QUESTION OF FUNERAL EXPENSES, PROMPT ACTION WILL BE APPRECIATED.

IN CONNECTION WITH THIS MATTER YOU PRESENT FOR DECISION THE FOLLOWING QUESTION:

* * * WHETHER OR NOT THE NAVY DEPARTMENT MAY LAWFULLY ASSUME THE FUNERAL AND BURIAL EXPENSES OF RETIRED OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN AND OF TRANSFERRED MEMBERS OF THE FLEET NAVAL RESERVE AND FLEET MARINE CORPS RESERVE (INACTIVE OR RETIRED) WHO DIE WHILE NAVAL PATIENTS IN OTHER GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS?

THE ACT OF JANUARY 19, 1929, PUBLIC, NO. 675, 45 STAT. 1090, PROVIDES:

THAT HEREAFTER THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY MAY PROVIDE FOR THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF NAVAL PATIENTS ON THE ACTIVE OR RETIRED LIST AND MEMBERS OF THE NAVAL RESERVE OR MARINE CORPS RESERVE ENTITLED TO TREATMENT IN NAVAL HOSPITALS IN OTHER GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS WHEN APPROPRIATE NAVAL HOSPITAL FACILITIES ARE NOT AVAILABLE AND THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVING CONTROL OF SUCH OTHER HOSPITALS CONSENT THERETO. ALL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO SUCH CARE AND TREATMENT RECEIVED BY NAVAL PATIENTS IN OTHER GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS, EXCEPTING SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, SHALL BE CHARGEABLE TO THE SAME APPROPRIATION OR FUND AS WOULD BE CHARGEABLE WITH THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF SUCH PATIENTS IN A NAVAL HOSPITAL: PROVIDED, THAT THE DEDUCTIONS AUTHORIZED BY SECTIONS 4812 AND 4813, REVISED STATUTES, SHALL APPLY TO SUCH CARE AND TREATMENT IN OTHER GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS, EXCEPT SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, AND SHALL BE CREDITED TO SAID APPROPRIATION OR FUND.

THIS LAW MAKES NO PROVISION FOR FUNERAL AND BURIAL EXPENSES OF ANY CLASS OF NAVAL PATIENTS. IT IS EVIDENT, THEREFORE, THAT BURIAL EXPENSES OF THE PATIENTS REFERRED TO IN YOUR SUBMISSION MAY NOT BE ASSUMED BY THE NAVY DEPARTMENT PURSUANT TO THIS LAW IF NOT PROPER PRIOR TO ITS ENACTMENT.

THE PROVISION IN THE ACT OF JANUARY 19, 1929, SUPRA, THAT "ALL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO SUCH CARE AND TREATMENT RECEIVED BY NAVAL PATIENTS IN OTHER GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS * * * SHALL BE CHARGEABLE TO THE SAME APPROPRIATION OR FUND AS WOULD BE CHARGEABLE WITH THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF SUCH PATIENTS IN A NAVAL HOSPITAL" SIMPLY GIVES SUCH PATIENTS THE SAME RIGHTS WHEN TREATED IN OTHER GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS AS THEY WOULD HAVE IF TREATED IN NAVAL HOSPITALS.

PRIOR TO THIS ACT THE DECISIONS HAVE INDICATED THE LIMITATIONS UPON THE APPROPRIATIONS FOR SUCH BURIAL AND FUNERAL EXPENSES. SEE 1 COMP. GEN. 284; A-8220 OF MARCH 19, 1925.

HOWEVER, IN THE CASE OF OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN ON THE RETIRED LIST, OR TRANSFERRED MEMBERS OF THE FLEET NAVAL RESERVE, WHERE RELATIVES DO NOT ARRANGE FOR THE BURIAL EXPENSES, THE BODY MAY BE BURIED AS A SANITARY MEASURE (AND NOT INCLUSIVE OF ANY EXPENSES FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE BODY AWAY FROM THE PLACE OF DEATH) AS A CHARGE UNDER THE NAVAL APPROPRIATION "CARE OF THE DEAD," OR IF IT IS APPARENT THERE IS A SUFFICIENT BALANCE DUE THE DECEASED THE SAME PROVISION MAY BE MADE FOR BURIAL OR FUNERAL EXPENSES AS IS THE CASE WHEN THE DEATH OF SUCH PERSONNEL OCCURS IN A NAVAL HOSPITAL, PAYMENT BEING MADE FOR THE VARIOUS EXPENSES EITHER DIRECTLY OR TO THE SERVICE TO WHICH THE HOSPITAL BELONGS UNDER THE APPROPRIATION UNDER WHICH THE RETIRED OR RETAINER PAY OF THE OFFICER OR MAN IS PAID, AS A CHARGE AGAINST THE ARREARS OF PAY DUE AT DATE OF DEATH, DUE NOTICE THEREOF TO BE TRANSMITTED WITH THE PAY ACCOUNT FOR SETTLEMENT.

SUBJECT TO THE LIMITATION INDICATED ABOVE THE NAVY DEPARTMENT MAY LAWFULLY ASSUME THE FUNERAL AND BURIAL EXPENSES OF RETIRED OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN AND OF TRANSFERRED MEMBERS OF THE FLEET NAVAL RESERVE AND FLEET MARINE CORPS RESERVE, INACTIVE OR RETIRED, WHO MAY DIE WHILE NAVAL PATIENTS IN OTHER GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS.