A-59720, FEBRUARY 6, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 598

A-59720: Feb 6, 1935

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AT A PLACE WHERE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE. IS NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS FOR EXPENSES OF PRIVATE MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES PROCURED BY HIM. BY WHICH WAS DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT IN THE SUM OF $342.90 FOR PRIVATE HOSPITAL AND NURSING EXPENSES INCURRED BY YOU FROM JANUARY 13 TO FEBRUARY 10. FOR THE REASON THAT OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD ARE NOT ENTITLED TO MEDICAL TREATMENT AT PUBLIC EXPENSE WHILE NOT IN A DUTY STATUS. YOU STATE AS THE BASIS OF YOUR REQUEST THAT COMMISSIONED OFFICERS ARE ALWAYS ON DUTY FOR PURPOSES OF PAY AND DISCIPLINE. THAT YOU WERE DIRECTED TO PROCEED TO YOUR HOME AND COULD NOT DO OTHERWISE WITHOUT RISK OF DISCIPLINARY ACTION.

A-59720, FEBRUARY 6, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 598

MEDICAL TREATMENT - COAST GUARD OFFICER - PRIVATE HOSPITAL AN OFFICER OF THE COAST GUARD "ABSENT ON ACCOUNT OF SICKNESS" FROM THE VESSEL TO WHICH ATTACHED, AT A PLACE WHERE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE, IS NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS FOR EXPENSES OF PRIVATE MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES PROCURED BY HIM.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO COMMANDER NORMAN B. HALL, UNITED STATES COAST GUARD, FEBRUARY 6, 1935:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 3, 1934, REQUESTING A REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT OF NOVEMBER 16, 1934, BY WHICH WAS DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT IN THE SUM OF $342.90 FOR PRIVATE HOSPITAL AND NURSING EXPENSES INCURRED BY YOU FROM JANUARY 13 TO FEBRUARY 10, 1934, FOR THE REASON THAT OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD ARE NOT ENTITLED TO MEDICAL TREATMENT AT PUBLIC EXPENSE WHILE NOT IN A DUTY STATUS.

YOU STATE AS THE BASIS OF YOUR REQUEST THAT COMMISSIONED OFFICERS ARE ALWAYS ON DUTY FOR PURPOSES OF PAY AND DISCIPLINE; THAT YOUR CLAIM COVERS EMERGENCY HOSPITALIZATION WHILE ABSENT DUE TO ILLNESS, YOU HAVING PERFORMED THE DUTY ASSIGNED TO YOU BY THE SURGEON APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNMENT TO ACT IN SUCH CASES; THAT YOU WERE DIRECTED TO PROCEED TO YOUR HOME AND COULD NOT DO OTHERWISE WITHOUT RISK OF DISCIPLINARY ACTION, AND COULD NOT RETURN TO DUTY BECAUSE YOUR COMMANDING OFFICER WOULD NOT PERMIT YOU TO SERVE ABOARD SHIP AT SEA IN YOUR DISABLED CONDITION.

THE EVIDENCE AT HAND SHOWS THAT YOU RECEIVED TREATMENT AS AN OUTPATIENT AT THE MARINE HOSPITAL, STAPLETON, NEW YORK, FROM DECEMBER 21 TO 31, 1933, CASE BEING DIAGNOSED AS ACUTE BRONCHITIS, AND THEN DISCHARGED FROM TREATMENT AS NOT FIT FOR DUTY FOR 14 DAYS, AND ADVISED TO REMAIN AT HOME DURING THAT TIME; THAT IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE DOCTOR'S ORDERS YOU WENT TO YOUR HOME IN WASHINGTON, D.C.; THAT AT 7 A.M. ON JANUARY 13, 1934, WHILE PREPARING TO RETURN TO DUTY, YOU WERE TAKEN WITH A SEVERE RECTAL HEMORRHAGE ACCOMPANIED WITH VOMITING; THAT YOUR WIFE BECAME ALARMED AT YOUR CONDITION AND TELEPHONED YOUR FAMILY PHYSICIAN, DR. ELLIOTT M. CAMPBELL, WHO DIRECTED THAT YOU BE REMOVED TO A HOSPITAL AT ONCE; THAT IN VIEW OF YOUR CONDITION AT THE TIME YOU WERE IN NO WAY ABLE TO DIRECT YOUR MEDICAL TREATMENT; THAT OWING TO THE EXTREME URGENCY OF THE CASE YOU WERE IMMEDIATELY REMOVED TO THE CENTRAL EMERGENCY HOSPITAL WHERE, WHILE AN EXAMINATION WAS BEING MADE, ANOTHER RECTAL HEMORRHAGE OCCURRED ACCOMPANIED BY VOMITING AND YOU BECAME UNCONSCIOUS; THAT DURING YOUR HOSPITALIZATION YOU WERE IN SUCH A WEAKENED CONDITION THAT REMOVAL TO ANOTHER HOSPITAL WAS CONSIDERED INADVISABLE.

THE VOUCHER SUBMITTED IS STATED FOR PAYMENT FROM THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE APPROPRIATION FOR ,PAY OF PERSONNEL AND MAINTENANCE OF HOSPITALS, PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, 1934," ACT OF MARCH 3, 1933, 47 STAT.1499, WHICH PROVIDES, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

FOR MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS, INCLUDING THE AMOUNT NECESSARY FOR THE MEDICAL INSPECTION OF ALIENS * * * MEDICAL, SURGICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES AND SUPPLIES, * * * INCLUDING NECESSARY PERSONNEL AND RESERVE COMMISSIONED OFFICERS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, * * *.

OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN OF THE COAST GUARD ARE ENTITLED TO MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL CARE AND TREATMENT BY THE UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE. PRIOR TO THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE REVENUE CUTTER SERVICE AND THE LIFE SAVING SERVICE THE OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN OF THE REVENUE CUTTER SERVICE WERE ENTITLED TO MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF THEIR EMPLOYMENT IN THE MERCHANT MARINE SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES. SEE 21 OP.ATTY.GEN. 340 AND 365. BY THE ACT OF AUGUST 4, 1894, 28 STAT. 229, PROVISION WAS MADE FOR TREATMENT OF OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE LIFE SAVING SERVICE IN THE MARINE HOSPITALS UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES "AS ARE SEAMEN OF AMERICAN REGISTERED VESSELS; " BY THE ACT OF JANUARY 28, 1915, 38 STAT. 800, THE REVENUE CUTTER SERVICE AND THE LIFE SAVING SERVICE WERE CONSOLIDATED AS THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD, AND SECTION 2 PROVIDED, EXCEPT AS THEREIN MODIFIED:

* * * ALL EXISTING LAWS RELATING EITHER TO THE PRESENT LIFE SAVING SERVICE OR THE PRESENT REVENUE CUTTER SERVICE SHALL REMAIN OF FORCE AS FAR AS APPLICABLE TO THE COAST GUARD * * *.

THE COMPILERS OF THE U.S.C. ON THE AUTHORITY OF THIS LAST QUOTED PROVISION OF LAW HAVE INCLUDED AS SECTION 8 OF TITLE 24 OF THE U.S.C. THE ACT OF AUGUST 4, 1894, 28 STAT. 229, WITH THE CHANGES IN PHRASEOLOGY REQUIRED BY THE ACT OF 1915 TO READ AS FOLLOWS:

THE PRIVILEGE OF ADMISSION TO AND TEMPORARY TREATMENT IN THE MARINE HOSPITALS UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS EXTENDED TO THE OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE COAST GUARD UNDER THE SAME RULES AND REGULATIONS AS THOSE GOVERNING SAILORS AND SEAMEN, AND FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION MEMBERS OF THE COAST GUARD SHALL BE RECEIVED IN SAID HOSPITALS AND TREATED THEREIN, AND AT THE DISPENSARIES THEREOF, AS ARE SEAMEN OF AMERICAN REGISTERED VESSELS; BUT THIS SECTION SHALL NOT BE SO CONSTRUED AS TO COMPEL THE ESTABLISHMENT OF HOSPITALS OR DISPENSARIES FOR THE BENEFIT OF SAID OFFICERS AND MEN, NOR AS ESTABLISHING A HOME FOR THE SAME WHEN PERMANENTLY DISABLED.

THE ONLY RIGHT YOU HAVE TO MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL TREATMENT AS A MEMBER OF THE COAST GUARD IS TO MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL TREATMENT IN THE PUBLIC HEALTH HOSPITALS OR AT PUBLIC HEALTH RELIEF STATIONS (INCLUDING CONTRACT HOSPITALS IF AND WHEN ORDERED THERE BY AN AUTHORIZED PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE OFFICER) PROVIDED BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF ITS APPROPRIATIONS.

ON THE BASIS OF THESE STATUTORY LIMITATIONS THE REGULATIONS FOR THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD, 1923, PRESCRIBING THE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL TREATMENT MAY BE FURNISHED MEMBERS OF THE COAST GUARD PROVIDE:

591. WHEN AN OFFICER HAS BEEN ABSENT FROM HIS STATION OR DUTY ON ACCOUNT OF SICKNESS OR INJURY, AND SUCH ABSENCE IS ACCOUNTED FOR BY A CERTIFICATE (FORM 2522) FROM AN OFFICER OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, OR, IF NO SUCH OFFICER WAS AVAILABLE, BY A CERTIFICATE FROM A REPUTABLE PRACTICING PHYSICIAN, SHOWING THAT THE OFFICER HAS BEEN UNABLE TO PERFORM DUTY, THE OFFICER SHALL BE CONSIDERED AS HAVING BEEN "ABSENT ON ACCOUNT OF SICKNESS.' * * * RESPONSIBLE OFFICERS ARE GIVEN AUTHORITY TO EXCUSE ABSENCE ON ACCOUNT OF SICKNESS WITH THE SAME LIMITATIONS AS THEY ARE GIVEN TO GRANT LEAVE OF ABSENCE. (SEE ARTS. 569 AND 570.) (G.O. NO. 8, C.G.H., AUG. 6, 1932.)

592. AN OFFICER WHO HAS BEEN UNDER MEDICAL TREATMENT AND WHOSE PHYSICAL CONDITION PRECLUDES HIS RETURN TO DUTY BUT DOES NOT NECESSITATE HOSPITALIZATION MAY BE PLACED BY HEADQUARTERS IN THE STATUS "ABSENT ON ACCOUNT OF SICKNESS.' THE REQUEST TO BE PLACED IN SUCH A STATUS SHALL BE ACCOMPANIED BY A CERTIFICATE FROM AN OFFICER OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, OR, IF NO SUCH OFFICER BE AVAILABLE, FROM A REPUTABLE PRACTICING PHYSICIAN, SHOWING THAT THE OFFICER CONCERNED IS UNABLE TO PERFORM DUTY. * * * (G.O. NO. 8, C.G.H., AUG. 6, 1932.)

2151-D. OFFICERS AND ENLISTED PERSONS WHILE ON LEAVE OF ABSENCE, ABSENT ON ACCOUNT OF SICKNESS, OR ON THE RETIRED LIST WILL BE FURNISHED MEDICAL RELIEF BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ONLY AT MARINE HOSPITALS AND DISPENSARIES CONDUCTED BY THAT SERVICE. (SEE ARTS. 523 AND 587.) (G.O. NO. 8, C.G.H., AUG. 6, 1932.)

REGULATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, 1931, PROVIDE:

637. OFFICERS AND ENLISTED PERSONS OF THE COAST GUARD WHILE ON AUTHORIZED LEAVE OR SICK LEAVE MAY RECEIVE MEDICAL AND SURGICAL RELIEF ONLY AT REGULARLY ESTABLISHED RELIEF STATIONS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE.

REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE HOSPITALS AND RELIEF STATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, 1920, PROVIDE AS TO THE COAST GUARD AS FOLLOWS:

391. OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD ON LEAVE, ON SICK LEAVE, OR RETIRED WILL BE FURNISHED RELIEF BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE AT PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE AND MARINE HOSPITALS OPERATED BY THE SERVICE AND DISPENSARIES CONDUCTED BY THE SERVICE, PROVIDED NO BILLS FOR THE SAME ARE INCURRED. * * *

IT APPEARS FROM THE EVIDENCE AT HAND THAT ON JANUARY 13, 1934, YOU WERE IN WASHINGTON, D.C., IN A STATUS OF "ABSENT ON ACCOUNT OF SICKNESS" FROM THE VESSEL TO WHICH ATTACHED APPARENTLY AT NEW YORK. UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF ARTICLE 2151-D OF THE COAST GUARD REGULATIONS OFFICERS OF THE COAST GUARD WHILE ABSENT ON ACCOUNT OF SICKNESS ARE ENTITLED TO BE FURNISHED MEDICAL RELIEF BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ONLY AT MARINE HOSPITALS AND DISPENSARIES CONDUCTED BY THAT SERVICE. (SEE ALSO PARAGRAPH 637 OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE REGULATIONS AND PARAGRAPH 391 OF THE REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE HOSPITALS AND RELIEF STATIONS OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, QUOTED ABOVE.) MISCELLANEOUS PUBLICATION NO. 11, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, JANUARY 1, 1933, PAGE 30, SHOWS THAT THERE IS A SECOND-CLASS RELIEF STATION IN THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT BUILDING, TWELFTH STREET AND PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE, NW., WASHINGTON, D.C., AND IT HAS BEEN ASCERTAINED INFORMALLY FROM THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE THAT THEY HAVE A CONTRACT WITH PROVIDENCE HOSPITAL, WASHINGTON, D.C., FOR THE TREATMENT OF ITS BENEFICIARIES, INCLUDING THE PERSONNEL OF THE COAST GUARD. GOVERNMENT FACILITIES WERE AVAILABLE FOR THE TREATMENT OF YOUR CASE HAD PROPER STEPS BEEN TAKEN BY YOU TO SECURE IT WHEN TAKEN ILL. WHERE MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL TREATMENT ARE FURNISHED TO MEMBERS OF THE COAST GUARD BY PERSONS NOT CONNECTED WITH THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE THE APPROPRIATION FOR SAID SERVICE CANNOT BE CHARGED WITH THE EXPENSES INCURRED BY THE INDIVIDUAL, UNLESS THE MEMBER IS ON DUTY AND THE TREATMENT WAS FURNISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION OR AUTHORITY OF THE PROPER OFFICER OF THAT SERVICE. 21 COMP. DEC. 173; 76 MS.ID. 990; MS. COMP. GEN. 965. IT IS EVIDENT FROM THE FACTS IN THE CASE THAT NO ATTEMPT WAS MADE ON YOUR PART TO SECURE AND UTILIZE THE EXISTING PROVISIONS MADE FOR YOUR CARE. HAVING ARRANGED FOR YOUR CARE AND TREATMENT INDEPENDENTLY OF THE PROVISIONS MADE BY THE GOVERNMENT, YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS. THE SETTLEMENT OF NOVEMBER 16, 1934, WAS CORRECT AND IS SUSTAINED.