A-29378, NOVEMBER 23, 1929, 9 COMP. GEN. 219

A-29378: Nov 23, 1929

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A STATE IS NOT ENTITLED TO BE REIMBURSED BY THE UNITED STATES FOR MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL CARE AND TREATMENT OF VETERANS PRIOR TO THE TIME THE VETERANS' BUREAU ASSUMES JURISDICTION AND CONTROL OVER SUCH VETERANS AND AUTHORIZES THE CARE AND TREATMENT. WHICH CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED SEPTEMBER 16. NOTICE WAS RECEIVED IN THE VETERANS' BUREAU REGIONAL OFFICE THAT PRICE HAD BEEN COMMITTED TO THE STATE HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE AT FERGUS FALLS BY A PROBATE COURT. IT WAS REQUESTED THAT AN INVESTIGATION BE MADE TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE MENTAL CONDITION WAS DUE TO MILITARY SERVICE. SERVICE CONNECTION WAS AT FIRST DENIED FEBRUARY 11. FROM AND AFTER WHICH DATE HOSPITALIZATION IN THE STATE INSTITUTION WAS AUTHORIZED BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU.

A-29378, NOVEMBER 23, 1929, 9 COMP. GEN. 219

VETERANS' BUREAU - MEDICAL TREATMENT - STATE HOSPITALS FOR PERIODS ON AND AFTER JULY 2, 1926, A STATE IS NOT ENTITLED TO BE REIMBURSED BY THE UNITED STATES FOR MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL CARE AND TREATMENT OF VETERANS PRIOR TO THE TIME THE VETERANS' BUREAU ASSUMES JURISDICTION AND CONTROL OVER SUCH VETERANS AND AUTHORIZES THE CARE AND TREATMENT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, NOVEMBER 23, 1929:

THERE HAS BEEN FORWARDED TO THIS OFFICE FOR DIRECT SETTLEMENT THE CLAIM OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS, BUREAU OF SUPPORT AND PAROLE OF INSANE, STATE OF MINNESOTA, FOR $230.29 FOR CARE AND MAINTENANCE IN THE FERGUS FALLS STATE HOSPITAL, OF DOUGLAS C. PRICE, WORLD WAR VETERAN, FOR THE PERIODS JANUARY 12, 1927, TO JULY 1, 1927; JULY 7, 1927, TO NOVEMBER 17, 1927; AND NOVEMBER 20, 1927, TO DECEMBER 22, 1928.

DOUGLAS C. PRICE FILED A CLAIM FOR DISABILITY COMPENSATION ON AUGUST 13, 1922, ALLEGING RHEUMATISM AND A MENTAL CONDITION, WHICH CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED SEPTEMBER 16, 1922. ON JANUARY 17, 1927, NOTICE WAS RECEIVED IN THE VETERANS' BUREAU REGIONAL OFFICE THAT PRICE HAD BEEN COMMITTED TO THE STATE HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE AT FERGUS FALLS BY A PROBATE COURT, AND IT WAS REQUESTED THAT AN INVESTIGATION BE MADE TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE MENTAL CONDITION WAS DUE TO MILITARY SERVICE. SERVICE CONNECTION WAS AT FIRST DENIED FEBRUARY 11, 1927, BUT LATER ESTABLISHED ON DECEMBER 22, 1928, FROM AND AFTER WHICH DATE HOSPITALIZATION IN THE STATE INSTITUTION WAS AUTHORIZED BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU. COMPENSATION AWARD FOR DEMENTIA PRAECOX WAS APPROVED MARCH 9, 1929, EFFECTIVE JANUARY 12, 1927.

THE PERIODS FOR WHICH THE STATE OF MINNESOTA IS CLAIMING REIMBURSEMENT FOR CARE OF THIS VETERAN WERE PRIOR TO THE AUTHORIZATION OF HOSPITALIZATION BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU BUT DURING THE TIME COVERED BY THE RETROACTIVELY EFFECTIVE AWARD OF DISABILITY COMPENSATION, THE VETERANS' BUREAU HAVING ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED THE CLAIM ON THE BASIS OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE CERTIFICATE BY THE REGIONAL MEDICAL OFFICER THAT THE CONDITION FOR WHICH UNAUTHORIZED TREATMENT WAS RENDERED CONSTITUTED A MEDICAL EMERGENCY AT A TIME WHEN BUREAU FACILITIES WERE NOT FEASIBLY AVAILABLE AND DELAY IN OBTAINING TREATMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN HAZARDOUS, THE ACTION OF THE BUREAU BEING BASED ON THE LAST PROVISO OF SECTION 202 (9) OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT, DATED JUNE 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 620, AS FOLLOWS:

* * * PROVIDED, THAT WHERE A BENEFICIARY OF THE BUREAU SUFFERS OR HAS SUFFERED AN INJURY OR CONTRACTED A DISEASE IN SERVICE ENTITLING HIM TO THE BENEFITS OF THIS SUBDIVISION, AND AN EMERGENCY DEVELOPS OR HAS DEVELOPED REQUIRING IMMEDIATE TREATMENT OR HOSPITALIZATION ON ACCOUNT OF SUCH INJURY OR DISEASE, AND NO BUREAU FACILITIES ARE OR WERE THEN FEASIBLY AVAILABLE AND IN THE JUDGMENT OF THE DIRECTOR DELAY WOULD BE OR WOULD HAVE BEEN HAZARDOUS, THE DIRECTOR IS AUTHORIZED TO REIMBURSE SUCH BENEFICIARY THE REASONABLE VALUE OF SUCH SERVICE RECEIVED FROM SOURCES OTHER THAN THE BUREAU.

HOWEVER, THE CLAIM HERE INVOLVED IS NOT A CLAIM OF A BENEFICIARY FOR REIMBURSEMENT, BUT IS OF THE CLASS CONSIDERED IN DECISION DATED MAY 26, 1925, 4 COMP. GEN. 999, 1002, WHEREIN THE ABOVE-QUOTED STATUTE WAS CONSIDERED, AND IT WAS CONCLUDED AS FOLLOWS:

IN THE ABSENCE OF A STATUTE DEFINITELY AUTHORIZING PAYMENT FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS FOR PERIODS OF HOSPITALIZATION PRIOR TO THE DATE THE VETERANS' BUREAU ASSUMED JURISDICTION AND AUTHORIZED HOSPITALIZATION, SUCH PAYMENT IS NOT AUTHORIZED.

IN OTHER WORDS, IT WAS CONCLUDED THAT THE ABOVE-QUOTED PROVISO RELATIVE TO EMERGENCY TREATMENT FORMED NO BASIS FOR A STATE TO CLAIM REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE CARE IT WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN REQUIRED TO FURNISH ITS CITIZENS PRIOR TO THE AUTHORIZATION OF TREATMENT BY THE BUREAU, FROM WHICH DATE THE GOVERNMENT ASSUMED JURISDICTION OVER THE VETERAN.

THIS DECISION WAS AFFIRMED JULY 22, 1925, AND AGAIN ON FEBRUARY 11, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 614, WHEREIN THE MATTER WAS GIVEN FURTHER CONSIDERATION, IT BEING HELD THEREIN AS FOLLOWS (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS):

THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE USE OF APPROPRIATED MONEYS TO PAY OR REIMBURSE STATE HOSPITALS OR INSTITUTIONS FOR MEDICAL CARE AND TREATMENT FURNISHED INSANE VETERANS OF THE WORLD WAR PRIOR TO THE DATE THE DIRECTOR OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU AUTHORIZED THEIR HOSPITALIZATION, AND SUCH AUTHORIZATION MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS RETROACTIVELY EFFECTIVE TO COVER THE PERIOD OF TIME THE STATE HAD FURNISHED THE VETERAN HOSPITALIZATION WITHOUT ANY REQUEST, DIRECTION, OR AUTHORIZATION THEREFOR FROM THE VETERANS' BUREAU. 4 COMP. GEN. 999 AFFIRMED.

BY THE ACT OF JULY 2, 1926, 44 STAT. 795, SUBSEQUENT TO THESE DECISIONS, THE CONGRESS AMENDED SECTION 202 (3) OF THE WORLD WAR VETERANS' ACT TO PROVIDE AS FOLLOWS:

* * * PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT WHERE ANY PERSON ENTITLED TO THE BENEFITS OF THIS PARAGRAPH HAS HERETOFORE BEEN HOSPITALIZED IN A STATE INSTITUTION, THE UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED TO REIMBURSE SUCH PERSON, OR HIS ESTATE, WHERE PAYMENT HAS BEEN MADE TO THE STATE OUT OF THE FUNDS OF SUCH PERSON, OR TO REIMBURSE THE STATE OR ANY SUBDIVISION THEREOF WHERE NO PAYMENT HAS BEEN MADE FOR THE REASONABLE COST OF SUCH SERVICES FROM THE DATE OF ADMISSION.

AFTER THIS ENACTMENT IT WAS HELD IN DECISION OF DECEMBER 6, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 382 (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS), AS FOLLOWS:

UNDER SECTION 9 OF THE ACT OF JULY 2, 1926, 44 STAT. 795, A BENEFICIARY OF THE VETERANS' BUREAU ENTITLED TO DISABILITY COMPENSATION ACT OF JUNE 7, 1924, 43 STAT. 618, MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR PAYMENTS MADE BY HIM TO STATE INSTITUTIONS FOR THE COST OF MEDICAL CARE AND TREATMENT INCURRED PRIOR TO JULY 2, 1926, DURING PERIODS COVERED BY SUCH AWARDS OF DISABILITY COMPENSATION, ALTHOUGH HOSPITALIZATION IN THE STATE INSTITUTIONS WAS NOT AUTHORIZED BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU. 4 COMP. GEN. 999 AND 5 ID. 614 NO LONGER CONTROLLING FOR PERIODS PRIOR TO JULY 2, 1926.

THE CONGRESS PLAINLY SHOWED AN INTENTION TO VALIDATE ONLY THE CLAIMS OF STATES AND BENEFICIARIES OR THEIR ESTATES FOR UNAUTHORIZED TREATMENT FURNISHED PRIOR TO THE DATE OF THE ACT AND NOT TO PROVIDE A BASIS FOR FURTHER SIMILAR CLAIMS. FOR PERIODS ON AND AFTER JULY 2, 1926, THE SITUATION IS AS THOUGH THE STATUTE OF THAT DATE, ABOVE QUOTED, HAD NOT BEEN ENACTED AND THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE ABOVE CITED RENDERED PRIOR TO SAID ENACTMENT ARE FOR APPLICATION. IT IS UNNECESSARY HEREIN TO REPEAT THE REASONS THEREIN GIVEN WHICH FORMED THE BASIS FOR THE CONCLUSION THAT A STATE IS NOT ENTITLED TO BE REIMBURSED BY THE UNITED STATES FOR MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL CARE AND TREATMENT OF VETERANS PRIOR TO THE TIME THE VETERANS' BUREAU ASSUMES JURISDICTION AND CONTROL OVER SUCH PERSONS AND AUTHORIZES THE CARE AND TREATMENT.

PARTICULAR REFERENCE IS MADE IN THE RECORD TO THE FACT THAT THIS OFFICE HAS CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IN THE PREAUDIT CERTAIN VOUCHERS PRESENTED BY STATES FOR SIMILAR TREATMENT PRIOR TO AUTHORIZATION OF THE BUREAU. APPEARS THAT A FEW SUCH VOUCHERS HAVE BEEN INADVERTENTLY CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT, BUT THE ACTION THEREIN MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED AS AUTHORIZING OTHER SUCH ERRONEOUS OR ILLEGAL PAYMENTS.