A-28703, SEPTEMBER 23, 1929, 9 COMP. GEN. 136

A-28703: Sep 23, 1929

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ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL - PENSIONERS WHO ARE INMATES OF THE SOLDIERS' HOME WHERE INMATES OF THE UNITED STATES SOLDIERS' HOME BECOME INSANE AND ARE COMMITTED TO ST. IS A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE SOLDIERS' HOME FUND. PLEATE WAS ADMITTED TO SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL AS A PATIENT ON COMMITMENT BLANK SIGNED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS. WITH THE NUMBER OF DAYS HE WAS IN THE HOSPITAL. WAS REGULARLY PUT ON THE BILL WHICH WAS SUBMITTED TO THE U.S. COPY OF WHICH IS INCLOSED. THAT THE HOSPITAL WAS NOT ENTITLED TO ANY PAYMENT FROM THE HOME WHEN THE BENEFICIARY RECEIVES A PENSION. OR AUTHORITY THIS REQUEST WAS MADE. I HAVE THE HONOR TO REQUEST THAT THIS MATTER BE TRANSMITTED TO THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES.

A-28703, SEPTEMBER 23, 1929, 9 COMP. GEN. 136

ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL - PENSIONERS WHO ARE INMATES OF THE SOLDIERS' HOME WHERE INMATES OF THE UNITED STATES SOLDIERS' HOME BECOME INSANE AND ARE COMMITTED TO ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, THE COST OF THEIR SUBSISTENCE AND MAINTENANCE IN THAT HOSPITAL, IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT DEDUCTIBLE FROM THEIR PENSION, IS A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE SOLDIERS' HOME FUND.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, SEPTEMBER 23, 1929:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR REQUEST, BY INDORSEMENT OF SEPTEMBER 12, 1929, FOR DECISION ON A QUESTION PRESENTED IN A LETTER ADDRESSED TO YOU SEPTEMBER 11, 1929, BY THE ASSISTANT TO THE SUPERINTENDENT OF ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, AS FOLLOWS:

UNDER DATE OF MAY 1, 1929, WALTER B. PLEATE WAS ADMITTED TO SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL AS A PATIENT ON COMMITMENT BLANK SIGNED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, U.S. SOLDIERS' HOME, WASHINGTON, D.C. THIS PATIENT'S NAME, WITH THE NUMBER OF DAYS HE WAS IN THE HOSPITAL, WAS REGULARLY PUT ON THE BILL WHICH WAS SUBMITTED TO THE U.S. SOLDIERS' HOME TO REIMBURSE THE HOSPITAL FOR THE BOARD OF THEIR BENEFICIARIES. THE AMOUNT OF MONEY RECEIVED FOR THE QUARTER ENDING JUNE 30, 1929, INCLUDED $117.24, COVERING THE COST OF MAINTENANCE OF WALTER B. PLEATE FOR THE PERIOD FROM MAY 1, 1929, TO JUNE 30, 1929, INCLUSIVE.

ON AUGUST 20, 1929, THE HOSPITAL RECEIVED FROM THE U.S. BUREAU OF PENSIONS A CHECK FOR $116.67 FOR THE PENSION OF WALTHER B. PLEATE AT THE RATE OF FIFTY DOLLARS ($50) PER MONTH FROM MAY 24, 1929, THROUGH AUGUST 4, 1929. ON SEPTEMBER 6, 1929, WE RECEIVED A CHECK FOR FIFTY DOLLARS ($50) FOR THE MONTH ENDING SEPTEMBER 4, 1929.

ON AUGUST 12 WE RECEIVED A LETTER FROM THE SECRETARY-TREASURER OF THE U.S. SOLDIERS' HOME, COPY OF WHICH IS INCLOSED, STATING THAT THEY HAD MADE APPLICATION FOR PENSION ON BEHALF OF WALTER B. PLEATE, THAT THEY RECEIVED NOTIFICATION FROM THE BUREAU OF PENSIONS THAT THE PENSION HAD BEEN ALLOWED AT THE RATE OF FIFTY DOLLARS ($50) PER MONTH, AND ASKING THAT THE SOLDIERS' HOME BE REIMBURSED FOR THIRTY-EIGHT (38) DAYS AT THE RATE OF $1.922, OR $73.04.

WE REPLIED TO THIS UNDER DATE OF AUGUST 17, COPY OF LETTER ENCLOSED, WHERE WE CALLED ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT THE HOSPITAL RECEIVED OUT OF THE PENSION FOR THE PERIOD FROM MAY 24, 1929, TO JUNE 30, 1929, $51.37, AND OFFERING TO REFUND THIS TO THE HOME.

ON AUGUST 28 WE RECEIVED A LETTER, COPY ENCLOSED, FROM THE SECRETARY- TREASURER OF THE SOLDIERS' HOME IN REPLY TO HOSPITAL LETTER OF AUGUST 17, STATING REGARDLESS OF THE AMOUNT TAKEN FROM MR. PLEATE'S PENSION BY THE HOSPITAL THAT THE SOLDIERS' HOME PAID $73.04 TO SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL ON ACCOUNT OF BOARD AND MAINTENANCE OF WALTER B. PLEATE DURING THE PERIOD STATED, AND THAT THE HOSPITAL WAS NOT ENTITLED TO ANY PAYMENT FROM THE HOME WHEN THE BENEFICIARY RECEIVES A PENSION, AND ASKED FOR REIMBURSEMENT IN FULL FOR THIS AMOUNT.

THE HOSPITAL ANSWERED THIS LETTER UNDER DATE OF AUGUST 30, COPY ENCLOSED, ASKING UNDER WHAT LAW, REGULATION, OR AUTHORITY THIS REQUEST WAS MADE.

WE RECEIVED A REPLY FROM THE SOLDIERS' HOME DATED SEPTEMBER 9, 1929, COPY ENCLOSED, WITHOUT CITING LAW, REGULATION, OR AUTHORITY BUT REITERATING THEIR REQUEST FOR THE REFUND.

THIS QUESTION HAS NEVER BEEN ADJUDICATED NOR HAS A DECISION EVER BEEN GIVEN IN REFERENCE TO IT BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL, TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOSPITAL. IN A SIMILAR CASE, IN REFERENCE TO THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, THE COMPTROLLER DIRECTED THAT CREDIT SHOULD BE GIVEN ON THE DISTRICT BOARD BILL FOR THE EXACT AMOUNTS RETAINED FROM PENSIONS OF PATIENTS CHARGEABLE TO THE DISTRICT. THIS DECISION DID NOT SAY THAT NO BOARD AT ALL SHOULD BE PAID BY THE DISTRICT FOR THESE BENEFICIARIES, BUT MERELY CREDIT GIVEN IN THE AMOUNT THAT THE HOSPITAL RECEIVED FROM THE PENSION. IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE SAME METHOD SHOULD BE APPLIED IN REMITTING BOARD BILLS TO THE GOVERNOR OF THE SOLDIERS' HOME FOR THEIR BENEFICIARIES. INASMUCH AS THE SECRETARY-TREASURER OF THE SOLDIERS' HOME INSISTS ON BEING RELIEVED OF ALL PAYMENT, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE AMOUNT OF THE PENSION THAT THE HOSPITAL MIGHT RECEIVE, I HAVE THE HONOR TO REQUEST THAT THIS MATTER BE TRANSMITTED TO THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES, AND HE BE ASKED TO DECIDE IF THE HOSPITAL SHOULD CREDIT THE SOLDIERS' HOME WITH THE AMOUNT OF MONEY DEDUCTED FROM THE PENSIONER'S PENSION, SHOULD THE SOLDIERS' HOME RECEIVE ANY CREDIT FOR PENSION, OR SHOULD THE BENEFICIARY OF THE SOLDIERS' HOME WHO RECEIVES A PENSION, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE AMOUNT OF THE PENSION, NO LONGER BE CHARGEABLE TO THE SOLDIERS' HOME.

SECTION 4839, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 2, 1909, 35 STAT. 592, PROVIDES:

* * * DURING THE TIME THAT ANY PENSIONER SHALL BE AN INMATE OF THE GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE, ALL MONEY DUE OR BECOMING DUE UPON HIS OR HER PENSION SHALL BE PAID BY THE PENSION AGENT TO THE SUPERINTENDENT OR DISBURSING AGENT OF THE HOSPITAL, UPON A CERTIFICATE BY SUCH SUPERINTENDENT THAT THE PENSIONER IS AN INMATE OF THE HOSPITAL AND IS LIVING, AND SUCH PENSION MONEY SHALL BE BY SAID SUPERINTENDENT OR DISBURSING AGENT DISBURSED AND USED, UNDER REGULATIONS TO BE PRESCRIBED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PENSIONER, AND, IN CASE OF A MALE PENSIONER, HIS WIFE, MINOR CHILDREN, AND DEPENDENT PARENTS, OR, IF A FEMALE PENSIONER, HER MINOR CHILDREN, IF ANY, IN THE ORDER NAMED, AND TO PAY HIS OR HER BOARD AND MAINTENANCE IN THE HOSPITAL, THE REMAINDER OF SUCH PENSION MONEY, IF ANY, TO BE PLACED TO THE CREDIT OF THE PENSIONER AND TO BE PAID TO THE PENSIONER OR THE GUARDIAN OF THE PENSIONER IN THE EVENT OF HIS OR HER DISCHARGE FROM THE HOSPITAL; OR, IN THE EVENT OF THE DEATH OF SAID PENSIONER WHILE AN INMATE OF SAID HOSPITAL, SHALL, IF A FEMALE PENSIONER, BE PAID TO HER MINOR CHILDREN, AND, IN THE CASE OF A MALE PENSIONER, TO BE PAID TO HIS WIFE, IF LIVING; IF NO WIFE SURVIVES HIM, THEN TO HIS MINOR CHILDREN; AND IN CASE THERE IS NO WIFE NOR MINOR CHILDREN, THEN THE SAID UNEXPENDED BALANCE TO HIS OR HER CREDIT SHALL BE APPLIED TO THE GENERAL USES OF SAID HOSPITAL: * * *.

IN THE APPROPRIATION FOR ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1929, ACT OF MARCH 7, 1928, 45 STAT. 241, IT IS PROVIDED:

FOR SUPPORT, CLOTHING, AND TREATMENT IN SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE FROM THE ARMY, NAVY, MARINE CORPS, COAST GUARD, INMATES OF THE NATIONAL HOME FOR DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS, PERSONS CHARGED WITH OR CONVICTED OF CRIMES AGAINST THE UNITED STATES WHO ARE INSANE, ALL PERSONS WHO HAVE BECOME INSANE SINCE THEIR ENTRY INTO THE MILITARY AND NAVAL SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES, CIVILIANS IN THE QUARTERMASTER'S SERVICE OF THE ARMY, PERSONS TRANSFERRED FROM THE CANAL ZONE WHO HAVE BEEN ADMITTED TO THE HOSPITAL AND WHO ARE INDIGENT, AND BENEFICIARIES OF THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, * * *: PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1929 THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, OR ANY BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT REQUIRING SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL TO CARE FOR PATIENTS FOR WHICH THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE, SHALL PAY BY CHECK TO THE SUPERINTENDENT, UPON HIS WRITTEN REQUEST, EITHER IN ADVANCE OR AT THE END OF EACH MONTH, ALL OR PART OF THE ESTIMATED OR ACTUAL COST OF SUCH MAINTENANCE, AS THE CASE MAY BE, * * *.

SECTION 4 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1883, 22 STAT. 564, PROVIDES:

THAT ANY INMATE OF THE HOME WHO IS RECEIVING A PENSION FROM THE GOVERNMENT, AND WHO HAS A CHILD, WIFE, OR PARENT LIVING, SHALL BE ENTITLED, BY FILING WITH THE PENSION AGENT FROM WHOM HE RECEIVES HIS MONEY, A WRITTEN DIRECTION TO THAT EFFECT, TO HAVE HIS PENSION, OR ANY PART OF IT, PAID TO SUCH CHILD, WIFE, OR PARENT. THE PENSIONS OF ALL WHO NOW ARE OR SHALL HEREAFTER BECOME INMATES OF THE HOME, EXCEPT SUCH AS SHALL BE ASSIGNED AS AFORESAID, SHALL BE PAID TO THE TREASURER OF THE HOME. THE MONEY THUS DERIVED SHALL NOT BECOME A PART OF THE FUNDS OF THE HOME, BUT SHALL BE HELD BY THE TREASURER IN TRUST FOR THE PENSIONER TO WHOM IT WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN PAID, AND SUCH PART OF IT AS SHALL NOT SOONER HAVE BEEN PAID TO HIM SHALL BE PAID TO HIM ON HIS DISCHARGE FROM THE INSTITUTION. THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS MAY FROM TIME TO TIME PAY OVER TO ANY INMATE SUCH PART OF HIS PENSION MONEY AS THEY THINK BEST FOR HIS INTEREST AND CONSISTENT WITH THE DISCIPLINE AND GOOD ORDER OF THE HOME, BUT SUCH PENSIONER SHALL NOT BE ENTITLED TO DEMAND OR HAVE THE SAME SO LONG AS HE REMAINS AN INMATE OF THE HOME. IN CASE OF THE DEATH OF ANY PENSIONER, ANY PENSION MONEY DUE HIM AND REMAINING IN THE HANDS OF THE TREASURER SHALL BE PAID TO HIS LEGAL HEIRS, IF DEMAND IS MADE WITHIN THREE YEARS; OTHERWISE THE SAME SHALL ESCHEAT TO THE HOME.

THE ACT OF JULY 7, 1884, 23 STAT. 213, PROVIDES:

AND IN ADDITION TO THE PERSONS NOW ENTITLED TO ADMISSION TO THE GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE, ANY INMATE OF THE SOLDIERS' HOME WHO IS NOW OR MAY HEREAFTER BECOME INSANE SHALL, UPON AN ORDER OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE SOLDIERS' HOME, BE ADMITTED TO SAID HOSPITAL AND TREATED THEREIN; AND THE EXPENSES OF MAINTAINING ANY SUCH PERSON SHALL BE PAID FROM THE SOLDIERS' HOME FUND.

THE NAME OF THE GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE WAS CHANGED TO ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL BY THE ACT OF JULY 1, 1916, 39 STAT. 309.

AT THE TIME OF THE PASSAGE OF THE ACT OF JULY 7, 1884, SUPRA, IN ADDITION TO THOSE NOT DRAWING PENSIONS THERE WERE TO CLASSES OF PENSIONERS WHO WERE ENTITLED TO ADMISSION TO THE SOLDIERS' HOME; THAT IS, THOSE WHO HAD CONTRIBUTED 12 1/2 CENTS PER MONTH FROM THEIR PAY AND WERE NOT, THEREFORE, REQUIRED TO SURRENDER THEIR PENSIONS, AND THOSE WHO HAD NOT SO CONTRIBUTED AND WERE REQUIRED TO SURRENDER THEIR PENSIONS. SEE UNITED STATES V. BOWEN, 100 U.S. 508. THE DEDUCTION OF THE 12 1/2 CENTS PER MONTH WAS NOT COMPULSORY AS TO CERTAIN TEMPORARY FORCES AND THE REQUIREMENT WAS FINALLY REPEALED BY THE ACT OF MAY 11, 1908, 35 STAT. 110. SAID ACT OF JULY 7, 1884, MADE NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE VARIOUS CLASSES OF INMATES, BUT AS IT DID NOT SPECIFICALLY REPEAL THE PROVISION IN SECTION 4839, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED, PROVIDING FOR THE DEDUCTION FROM THE PENSIONS OF THOSE TREATED IN ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, THE TWO PROVISIONS MUST BE CONSTRUED TOGETHER, IF POSSIBLE. IT WOULD SEEM, THEREFORE, THAT THE AUTHORITY IN THE 1884 ACT TO CHARGE THE EXPENSES OF MAINTAINING INMATES OF THE SOLDIERS' HOME AT THE ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL HAD REFERENCE ONLY TO SUCH EXPENSES AS WERE NOT COVERED BY THE AUTHORIZED DEDUCTION FROM THE PENSION OF SUCH PATIENTS. 4 COMP. GEN. 445. TO THAT EXTENT, THE SOLDIERS' HOME MUST BE CONSIDERED AS "RESPONSIBLE" FOR ITS INSANE INMATES WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE PROVISION QUOTED ABOVE FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL.

IN VIEW OF THE PROVISION IN THE ACT OF 1884 FOR THE PAYMENT OF EXCESS COSTS OF MAINTAINING IN ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, INSANE INMATES OF THE SOLDIERS' HOME FROM THE SOLDIERS' HOME FUND, THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT THAT THERE BE REFUNDED TO THE SOLDIERS' HOME IN THE CASE SUBMITTED BY YOU, ANY SUM IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT DEDUCTED FROM THE PENSION OF THE INMATE.

THE FOREGOING MAY BE DISTINGUISHED FROM THE CASE OF FEDERAL PRISONERS ADMITTED TO ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, CONSIDERED IN 5 COMP. GEN. 218, THERE HAVING BEEN NO EXPRESS STATUTORY PROVISION FOR THE PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF MAINTAINING INSANE PRISONERS FROM THE APPROPRIATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. IT MAY BE DISTINGUISHED, ALSO, FROM THE DECISION IN 6 COMP. GEN. 126, AS THERE WAS IN THAT CASE A SPECIFIC PROHIBITION AGAINST THE DEDUCTION FROM THE PENSION OF BENEFICIARIES OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU OF ANY PORTION OF THE COST OF THEIR TREATMENT.