A-3432, JULY 19, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 85

A-3432: Jul 19, 1924

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ARE NOT . NOT ARE REQUIRED TO FURNISH MEDICAL TREATMENT TO BENEFICIARIES UNDER THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT. 1924: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 11. PART-TIME PHYSICIANS EMPLOYED BY THE BUREAU ARE "UNITED STATES MEDICAL OFFICERS" WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 9 OF THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT OF SEPTEMBER 7. ARE THEREFORE UNDER OBLIGATION TO RENDER SERVICES FREE OF CHARGE TO BENEFICIARIES UNDER THAT ACT. YOUR DESCRIPTION OF THE EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONS COVERED BY YOUR SUBMISSION IS AS FOLLOWS: THE LETTERS OF APPOINTMENT OF THESE MEDICAL OFFICERS OF THE BUREAU. READ PRECISELY THE SAME AS THE APPOINTMENT OF OTHER MEDICAL OFFICERS EXCEPT THAT THE WORDS "PART- TIME" ARE INSERTED IN THE LETTERS OF APPOINTMENT.

A-3432, JULY 19, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 85

PART-TIME EXAMINERS AND PHYSICIANS - VETERANS' BUREAU ATTENDING SPECIALISTS, PART-TIME EXAMINERS, AND PART-TIME PHYSICIANS, EMPLOYED BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU FOR LIMITED OR SPECIAL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES TO THE BENEFICIARIES OF THE BUREAU, ARE NOT ,UNITED STATES MEDICAL OFFICERS" WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 6, 1916, 39 STAT. 743, AND NOT ARE REQUIRED TO FURNISH MEDICAL TREATMENT TO BENEFICIARIES UNDER THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL GINN TO THE DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU, JULY 19, 1924:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 11, 1924, REQUESTING DECISION WHETHER ATTENDING SPECIALISTS, PART-TIME EXAMINERS, AND PART-TIME PHYSICIANS EMPLOYED BY THE BUREAU ARE "UNITED STATES MEDICAL OFFICERS" WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 9 OF THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT OF SEPTEMBER 7, 1916, 39 STAT. 743-744, AND ARE THEREFORE UNDER OBLIGATION TO RENDER SERVICES FREE OF CHARGE TO BENEFICIARIES UNDER THAT ACT.

YOUR DESCRIPTION OF THE EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONS COVERED BY YOUR SUBMISSION IS AS FOLLOWS:

THE LETTERS OF APPOINTMENT OF THESE MEDICAL OFFICERS OF THE BUREAU, AFTER GIVING THE APPOINTEES THE TITLES ABOVE INDICATED, READ PRECISELY THE SAME AS THE APPOINTMENT OF OTHER MEDICAL OFFICERS EXCEPT THAT THE WORDS "PART- TIME" ARE INSERTED IN THE LETTERS OF APPOINTMENT. HOWEVER, PRIOR TO SUCH APPOINTMENT THERE IS A DISTINCT UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE BUREAU AND SUCH PERSONS AS TO HOW MUCH OF THEIR TIME THEY WILL GIVE OR HOW MUCH TIME IT IS SUPPOSED THEY WILL HAVE TO GIVE TO THE SERVICE OF THE BUREAU. THESE CONDITIONS ARE CONTAINED IN THE LETTERS RECOMMENDING THE APPOINTMENT OF THESE PERSONS. IT IS DISTINCTLY UNDERSTOOD THAT SUCH PERSONS RETAIN THE RIGHT TO CARRY ON THEIR PRIVATE PRACTICE IN SO FAR AS THEIR PRACTICE DOES NOT CONFLICT WITH THEIR PUBLIC DUTIES. THEY ARE PAID A REGULAR SALARY. THEY ARE EMPLOYED TO DO SPECIAL WORK ON A SALARY RATHER THAN A FEE BASIS FOR TWO REASONS, FIRST, TO AVOID THE DETAIL INVOLVED IN PAYING FOR SERVICES ON A FEE BASIS, AND, SECOND, BECAUSE IT IS MORE ECONOMICAL TO EMPLOY THEM ON A SALARY RATHER THAN ON A FEE BASIS. THE SALARY IN EACH CASE IS BASED UPON CONSIDERATION OF THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT WOULD BE PROBABLY EARNED ON A FEE BASIS, A DEDUCTION BEING MADE FOR THE REGULARITY OF PAYMENTS. IN THIS WAY THE SERVICES OF SKILLED PHYSICIANS ARE SECURED WHICH OTHERWISE MIGHT NOT BE AVAILABLE TO THE BUREAU. SUCH BEING THE CASE, THESE PART-TIME PHYSICIANS CONSIDER THAT IT IS UNJUST FOR THEM TO BE CALLED UPON TO RENDER SERVICES SO WHOLLY BEYOND THE SCOPE OF THEIR AGREEMENT.

SECTION 9 OF THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 7, 1916, CITED, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

THAT IMMEDIATELY AFTER AN INJURY SUSTAINED BY AN EMPLOYEE WHILE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTY, WHETHER OR NOT DISABILITY HAS ARISEN, AND FOR A REASONABLE TIME THEREAFTER, THE UNITED STATES SHALL FURNISH TO SUCH EMPLOYEE REASONABLE MEDICAL, SURGICAL, AND HOSPITAL SERVICES AND SUPPLIES UNLESS HE REFUSES TO ACCEPT THEM. SUCH SERVICES AND SUPPLIES SHALL BE FURNISHED BY UNITED STATES MEDICAL OFFICERS AND HOSPITALS, BUT WHERE THIS IS NOT PRACTICABLE SHALL BE FURNISHED BY PRIVATE PHYSICIANS AND HOSPITALS DESIGNATED OR APPROVED BY THE COMMISSION AND PAID FOR FROM THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION FUND. IF NECESSARY FOR THE SECURING OF PROPER MEDICAL, SURGICAL, AND HOSPITAL TREATMENT, THE EMPLOYEE, IN THE DISCRETION OF THE COMMISSION, MAY BE FURNISHED TRANSPORTATION AT THE EXPENSE OF THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION FUND.

IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE PROPER DEFINITION OF "UNITED STATES MEDICAL OFFICER" AS USED IN THIS STATUTE IS THAT OF THOSE WHOSE PROFESSIONAL SERVICES ARE MAINLY TO THE GOVERNMENT UNDER REGULAR APPOINTMENT OR CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT IN ANY BRANCH OF THE SERVICE. THOSE EMPLOYED BY THE VETERANS' BUREAU UNDER "SPECIAL" CONTRACTS OR LETTERS OF APPOINTMENT FOR LIMITED OR SPECIAL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES TO THE BENEFICIARIES OF THE BUREAU NEED NOT BE CLASSED AS "UNITED STATES MEDICAL OFFICERS" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE TERM AS USED IN THIS STATUTE, AND THEY WOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO FURNISH MEDICAL TREATMENT TO BENEFICIARIES UNDER THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT UNLESS THERE WERE SOME OBLIGATION IN THAT RESPECT EXPRESSED IN THE SPECIAL CONTRACT OR LETTER OF APPOINTMENT.

BASED ON YOUR STATEMENT OF THE CHARACTER OF EMPLOYMENT OF "ATTENDING SPECIALISTS," "PART-TIME EXAMINERS," AND "PART-TIME PHYSICIANS," THE QUESTION SUBMITTED IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.