A-63636, SEPTEMBER 11, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 190

A-63636: Sep 11, 1935

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MEDICAL TREATMENT - INDIGENT INDIANS THERE IS NO LIABILITY ON THE PART OF THE UNITED STATES TO PAY FROM PUBLIC FUNDS CHARGES COVERING HOSPITAL SERVICES RENDERED INDIGENT INDIANS BY PRIVATE HOSPITALS WITHOUT PREVIOUS AUTHORIZATION HAVING BEEN GRANTED THEREFOR. EXCEPT WHEN EMERGENCY SERVICE IS SUBSEQUENTLY RATIFIED AND APPROVED BY PROPER AUTHORITY. WHEREIN WAS DISALLOWED ITS CLAIM IN THE SUM OF $250 FOR HOSPITAL SERVICES RENDERED MRS. THE WIFE OF A BLACKFEET WARD OF THE GOVERNMENT WHO IS ALSO INDIGENT. THE DISALLOWANCE WAS BASED UPON THE OFFICIAL RECORDS INDICATING THAT THE SERVICES WERE NEITHER AUTHORIZED NOR APPROVED AS AN EMERGENCY SERVICE BY PROPER AUTHORITY. WHO WAS OPERATED ON FOR THE REMOVAL OF AN EXOPHTHALMIC GOITER BY DR.

A-63636, SEPTEMBER 11, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 190

MEDICAL TREATMENT - INDIGENT INDIANS THERE IS NO LIABILITY ON THE PART OF THE UNITED STATES TO PAY FROM PUBLIC FUNDS CHARGES COVERING HOSPITAL SERVICES RENDERED INDIGENT INDIANS BY PRIVATE HOSPITALS WITHOUT PREVIOUS AUTHORIZATION HAVING BEEN GRANTED THEREFOR, EXCEPT WHEN EMERGENCY SERVICE IS SUBSEQUENTLY RATIFIED AND APPROVED BY PROPER AUTHORITY.

DECISION BY ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT, SEPTEMBER 11, 1935:

GREAT FALLS CLINIC HAS REQUESTED REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT NO. 0319948 (1), DATED MAY 23, 1933, WHEREIN WAS DISALLOWED ITS CLAIM IN THE SUM OF $250 FOR HOSPITAL SERVICES RENDERED MRS. JAMES MCGOVERN, AN INDIGENT CREE INDIAN, THE WIFE OF A BLACKFEET WARD OF THE GOVERNMENT WHO IS ALSO INDIGENT. THE DISALLOWANCE WAS BASED UPON THE OFFICIAL RECORDS INDICATING THAT THE SERVICES WERE NEITHER AUTHORIZED NOR APPROVED AS AN EMERGENCY SERVICE BY PROPER AUTHORITY.

IN SUPPORT OF ITS CLAIM THE GREAT FALLS CLINIC HAS FURNISHED A LETTER DATED MAY 19, 1933, FROM THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, CASCADE COUNTY CHAPTER, AMERICAN RED CROSS, GREAT FALLS, MONT., AS FOLLOWS:

THIS HAS REFERENCE TO MRS. JAMES MCGOVERN, WHO WAS OPERATED ON FOR THE REMOVAL OF AN EXOPHTHALMIC GOITER BY DR. E. M. PORTER, OF YOUR CLINIC, DURING THE LATTER PART OF 1931. I PERSONALLY RECALL THAT MRS. HARRIET E. CARRIER, FORMER EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF THIS CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN RED CROSS, PERSUADED DR. PORTER TO TREAT MRS. MCGOVERN, AS SHE HAD SUFFERED A COLLAPSE AND WAS IN NEED OF IMMEDIATE ATTENTION AS THE RESULT OF THE GOITER. MRS. MCGOVERN HAD APPEALED TO OUR CHAPTER BECAUSE OF THE DELAY IN AUTHORIZATION OF HER TREATMENT BY THE BLACKFEET AGENCY AT BROWNING, MONTANA, DUE TO THE FACT THAT SHE WAS A CREE INDIAN, BUT THAT HER HUSBAND, JAMES MCGOVERN, WAS A BLACKFEET WARD OF THE GOVERNMENT. SHE MADE A COMPLETE RECOVERY AND HAS SINCE ENJOYED GOOD HEALTH.

OUR CHAPTER ONLY ACTED IN THE EMERGENCY WHILE SUPERINTENDENT STONE WAS TRYING TO SECURE AUTHORIZATION FOR THE TREATMENT, AND BECAUSE THE MCGOVERN FAMILY WERE NEWCOMERS HERE AT THAT TIME THEY WERE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR COUNTY ASSISTANCE AND WE WERE ENTIRELY WITHOUT FUNDS TO HANDLE SUCH CASES.

IT IS NOT CLEARLY SHOWN THAT MRS. MCGOVERN APPLIED FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT AT THE BLACKFEET INDIAN AGENCY, BUT IT IS STATED ON THE VOUCHER THAT FACILITIES WERE NOT AVAILABLE AT THE BLACKFEET HOSPITAL FOR MAJOR OPERATIONS. BE THAT AS IT MAY, THE SERVICES WERE NOT ORDERED OR REQUESTED BY ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE HAVING AUTHORITY TO CONTRACT ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT, BUT WERE RENDERED SOLELY AT THE REQUEST OF THE AMERICAN RED CROSS AT GREAT FALLS, MONT.

THERE IS NO LIABILITY ON THE PART OF THE UNITED STATES TO PAY FROM PUBLIC FUNDS CHARGES COVERING HOSPITAL SERVICES RENDERED TO INDIGENT INDIANS BY A PRIVATE HOSPITAL WITHOUT PREVIOUS AUTHORIZATION HAVING BEEN GRANTED THEREFOR, EXCEPT WHEN EMERGENCY SERVICE IS SUBSEQUENTLY RATIFIED AND APPROVED BY PROPER AUTHORITY. THE RECORD IN THIS CASE CLEARLY SHOWS THAT THERE WAS NO PREVIOUS AUTHORIZATION FOR THE SERVICES RENDERED, AND, WHILE AN ATTEMPT IS MADE TO SHOW THAT THE SERVICES WERE OF AN EMERGENCY CHARACTER, SUCH SERVICES WERE NOT SUBSEQUENTLY RATIFIED AND APPROVED BY COMPETENT AUTHORITY FOR PAYMENT FROM PUBLIC FUNDS.

UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THERE IS NO OBLIGATION UPON THE GOVERNMENT TO ASSUME AND PAY THE CHARGES FOR THE SERVICES RENDERED, AND ACCORDINGLY, UPON REVIEW THE SETTLEMENT OF MAY 23, 1933, IS SUSTAINED.