A-3913, AUGUST 14, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 175

A-3913: Aug 14, 1924

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MEDICAL TREATMENT - NAVAL ENLISTED MEN ON LEAVE OR ABSENCE ENLISTED MEN OF THE NAVY ARE NOT ENTITLED TO MEDICAL TREATMENT AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE WHILE ON A LEAVE OF ABSENCE PRIOR TO A TERMINATION OF THE LEAVE STATUS BY APPROPRIATE ACTION BY AUTHORIZED OFFICERS BRINGING THE ENLISTED MAN UNDER NAVAL JURISDICTION. IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF CIVILIAN PHYSICIANS ATTENDING AN ENLISTED MAN OF THE NAVY ILL AT HIS HOME. WHEREIN WERE DISALLOWED TWO CLAIMS. - 166.00 THESE BILLS HAVE BEEN APPROVED ADMINISTRATIVELY AS PAYABLE FROM THE APPROPRIATION "CONTINGENT M. AS FOLLOWS: THE ABOVE SERVICES WERE AUTHORIZED BY THE MEDICAL OFFICER AT THE NAVY RECRUITING STATION. THE SERVICES OF A NAVAL MEDICAL OFFICER OR NAVAL HOSPITAL FACILITIES WERE NOT AVAILABLE.

A-3913, AUGUST 14, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 175

MEDICAL TREATMENT - NAVAL ENLISTED MEN ON LEAVE OR ABSENCE ENLISTED MEN OF THE NAVY ARE NOT ENTITLED TO MEDICAL TREATMENT AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE WHILE ON A LEAVE OF ABSENCE PRIOR TO A TERMINATION OF THE LEAVE STATUS BY APPROPRIATE ACTION BY AUTHORIZED OFFICERS BRINGING THE ENLISTED MAN UNDER NAVAL JURISDICTION. THE PROVISION FOR CIVILIAN MEDICAL TREATMENT IN THE APPROPRIATION,"CARE OF HOSPITAL PATIENTS," ACT OF JUNE 4, 1920, 41 STAT. 823, IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF CIVILIAN PHYSICIANS ATTENDING AN ENLISTED MAN OF THE NAVY ILL AT HIS HOME.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, AUGUST 14, 1924:

REVIEW HAS BEEN REQUESTED OF THE ACTION OF THIS OFFICE IN SETTLEMENT NO. M-1736-N, DATED JUNE 30, 1923, WHEREIN WERE DISALLOWED TWO CLAIMS, PUBLIC BILLS, NOS. 5182 AND 162, FIRST QUARTER, 1923, ACCOUNTS OF COMMANDER C. G. MAYO (S.C.), U.S.N., AS FOLLOWS: NO. 5182. DR. H. A. PRICE:

DEC. 21, 1920, TO FEB. 5, 1921. FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES RENDERED

LAWRENCE POTICHER, FIREMAN, U.S. NAVY, U.S.S. NEVADA --- $275.00 NO. 162, DR. P. RAY MEIKRANTZ, 207 MANHANTONGO ST., POTTSVILLE, PA.:

FEB. 9, 1921, TO APR. 30, 1921. FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES RENDERED

TO LAWRENCE POTICHER, FIREMAN, U.S. NAVY --------------- 166.00

THESE BILLS HAVE BEEN APPROVED ADMINISTRATIVELY AS PAYABLE FROM THE APPROPRIATION "CONTINGENT M. AND S., 1921," 41 STAT., 823. EACH HAS WRITTEN THEREON INDORSEMENTS, AS FOLLOWS:

THE ABOVE SERVICES WERE AUTHORIZED BY THE MEDICAL OFFICER AT THE NAVY RECRUITING STATION, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA.

THE SERVICES OF A NAVAL MEDICAL OFFICER OR NAVAL HOSPITAL FACILITIES WERE NOT AVAILABLE.

THE DISALLOWANCE WAS MADE UPON THE THEORY THAT FIREMAN POTICHER WAS ON LEAVE OF ABSENCE DURING THE ILLNESS, WHICH, IF TRUE, RELIEVED THE GOVERNMENT FROM ANY OBLIGATION FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT.

PAYMENT UNDER "CONTINGENT, BUREAU OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY, 1921," WAS OBVIOUSLY IMPROPER. THE PROVISION FOR CIVILIAN MEDICAL TREATMENT IS MADE UNDER "CARE OF HOSPITAL PATIENTS" IN THE SAME ACT, JUNE 4, 1920, 41 STAT. 823, AS FOLLOWS:

FOR THE CARE, MAINTENANCE, AND TREATMENT OF PATIENTS INCLUDING SUPERNUMERARIES, IN NAVAL AND IN OTHER THAN NAVAL HOSPITALS, $100,000.

ASIDE FROM THE QUESTION OF THE APPROPRIATION, THE QUESTION IN THIS CASE IS WHETHER THE ENLISTED MAN WAS IN A LEAVE STATUS WHEN THE EXPENSES WERE INCURRED OR WHETHER HE WAS ON A DUTY STATUS, EITHER ACTUAL OR CONSTRUCTIVE, AS THE UNITED STATES IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MEDICAL EXPENSES OF ENLISTED MEN OF THE NAVY ON LEAVE OF ABSENCE OR FURLOUGH. COMP. DEC. 382; 1 COMP. GEN. 732.

IT IS STATED THAT LAWRENCE POTICHER, FIREMAN, THIRD CLASS, UNITED STATES NAVY, WAS ON AUTHORIZED LEAVE OF ABSENCE FROM THE U.S.S. NEVADA, STATIONED AT THE NAVY YARD, PHILADELPHIA, PERIOD NOT STATED, AND COPY OF LEAVE ORDER, IF ONE WAS ISSUED, NOT FURNISHED. WHILE ON SUCH LEAVE OF ABSENCE AND AT HIS HOME, PORT CARBON, PA., HE BECAME ILL DECEMBER 18, 1920. APPARENTLY POTICHER REPORTED HE WAS UNABLE TO RETURN TO DUTY AT EXPIRATION OF LEAVE, AND THE MATTER BEING BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF THE BUREAU OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY, THAT BUREAU RECOMMENDED JANUARY 24, 1921, THAT AN OFFICER OF THE MEDICAL CORPS OF THE NAVY "BE ORDERED TO INVESTIGATE THIS CASE AND REPORT ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN CONNECTION THEREWITH.' WHEN THE MEDICAL OFFICER REACHED PORT CARBON AND MADE HIS INVESTIGATION DOES NOT APPEAR. AS THE RESULT OF HIS INVESTIGATION HE RECOMMENDED THAT THE MAN BE ALLOWED TO REMAIN AT HOME IN CHARGE OF DR. H. R. PRICE, PORT CARBON, PA., FOR ABOUT TWO WEEKS LONGER AND THAT IF POTICHER'S CONDITION THEN PERMITTED HE BE TRANSFERRED TO THE U.S. NAVAL HOSPITAL, LEAGUE ISLAND. APPROVAL OF THIS RECOMMENDATION WAS SUGGESTED BY THE BUREAU OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY FEBRUARY 3, AND IT WAS APPROVED BY THE BUREAU OF NAVIGATION FEBRUARY 10, 1921.

THE MEDICAL OFFICER, IT IS STATED, REPORTED "THAT HE INSTRUCTED THE PHYSICIAN IN CHARGE OF THE CASE "NOT TO SPARE ANY EXPENSES, AND THAT THE NAVY DEPARTMENT WOULD PAY THE BILLS.'" HIS AUTHORITY TO MAKE SUCH A REQUEST OR STATEMENT IS NOT SUBMITTED. HIS ORDERS WERE TO INVESTIGATE AND REPORT RESPECTING THE ILLNESS OF POTICHER. THE VISIT AND INVESTIGATION OF THE MEDICAL OFFICER WAS NOT AN EXERCISE OF NAVAL JURISDICTION OVER THE MAN TERMINATING HIS LEAVE, AND THE MEDICAL OFFICER'S RECOMMENDATION WAS NOT APPROVED BY THE FINAL AUTHORITY UNTIL FEBRUARY 10, 1921. ACTION BY THE BUREAU OF NAVIGATION MAY BE CONSTRUED AS TERMINATING THE LEAVE STATUS AND PLACING THE MAN UNDER NAVAL SUPERVISION.

DOCTOR PRICE'S BILL IS FOR THE PERIOD DECEMBER 21, 1920, TO FEBRUARY 5, 1921, DURING THE ENTIRE PERIOD OF WHICH THE GOVERNMENT WAS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MEDICAL EXPENSES OF POTICHER.

THE MEDICAL OFFICER RECOMMENDED THAT POTICHER REMAIN AT HOME IN CHARGE OF DR. H. R. PRICE. NO AUTHORITY IS SHOWN FOR THE EMPLOYMENT OF DR. P. RAY MEIKRANTZ, FEBRUARY 9 TO APRIL 30, 1921, AND, NO AUTHORIZED OFFICIAL HAVING DIRECTED HIS EMPLOYMENT, PAYMENT MAY NOT BE MADE FOR HIS SERVICES.

IT IS TO BE OBSERVED IN THIS CONNECTION THAT THE APPROPRIATION UNDER WHICH PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM IS ASKED IS LIMITED TO "CARE, MAINTENANCE, AND TREATMENT OF PATIENTS * * * IN NAVAL AND IN OTHER THAN NAVAL HOSPITALS.' THIS PATIENT WAS TREATED BY CIVILIAN PHYSICIANS AT HIS HOME AND NOT IN A NAVAL HOSPITAL NOR IN ANY OTHER THAN NAVAL HOSPITAL.