B-145161, MAR. 24, 1961

B-145161: Mar 24, 1961

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WELFARE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 17. IT IS POINTED OUT THAT PRIOR TO THE ENACTMENT OF PUBLIC LAW 86-415. PROVIDED THAT RETIRED MEMBERS OF THE COAST GUARD WERE ENTITLED TO CERTAIN MEDICAL. THESE SERVICES WERE PROVIDED BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE BY TREATMENT IN ITS OWN FACILITIES AND THROUGH OUTPATIENT OFFICES OPERATED BY CONTRACT PHYSICIANS. THE REASON FOR THIS DELETION IS STATED ON PAGE 18 OF HOUSE REPORT NO. 1091. SUCH BENEFIT IS NOT AVAILABLE TO RETIRED PERSONNEL OF THE MILITARY SERVICES WHO ARE ENTITLED TO MEDICAL CARE ONLY AT MEDICAL FACILITIES OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES PURSUANT TO SECTION 301 (B) OF THE DEPENDENTS' MEDICAL CARE ACT. THE ONLY INTENT OF THIS AMENDMENT IS TO ESTABLISH PARITY BETWEEN RETIRED PERSONNEL OF THE COAST GUARD.

B-145161, MAR. 24, 1961

TO AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 17, 1961, REQUESTING A DECISION CONCERNING PAYMENT OF SEVERAL VOUCHERS COVERING THE COST OF CERTAIN SUPPLIES AND SERVICES FURNISHED RETIRED MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD SUBSEQUENT TO APRIL 8, 1960, THE DATE OF ENACTMENT OF THE ,PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONED CORPS PERSONNEL ACT OF 1960," PUBLIC LAW 86-415.

IT IS POINTED OUT THAT PRIOR TO THE ENACTMENT OF PUBLIC LAW 86-415, SECTION 326 (A) OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ACT, 42 U.S.C. 253, PROVIDED THAT RETIRED MEMBERS OF THE COAST GUARD WERE ENTITLED TO CERTAIN MEDICAL, SURGICAL AND DENTAL TREATMENT FROM THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE. THESE SERVICES WERE PROVIDED BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE BY TREATMENT IN ITS OWN FACILITIES AND THROUGH OUTPATIENT OFFICES OPERATED BY CONTRACT PHYSICIANS. SECTION 5 (D) OF PUBLIC LAW 86-415 AMENDED SECTION 326 (A) OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ACT BY DELETING THEREFROM ALL REFERENCES TO RETIRED PERSONNEL OF THE COAST GUARD, COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY, AND PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE. THE REASON FOR THIS DELETION IS STATED ON PAGE 18 OF HOUSE REPORT NO. 1091, 86TH CONGRESS, WHICH ACCOMPANIED THE LEGISLATION, IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * THE INCLUSION OF SUCH PERSONNEL IN THE EXISTING SECTION 326 (A) PERMITS SUCH PERSONS TO RECEIVE MEDICAL CARE FROM CIVILIAN FACILITIES IN EMERGENCIES. SUCH BENEFIT IS NOT AVAILABLE TO RETIRED PERSONNEL OF THE MILITARY SERVICES WHO ARE ENTITLED TO MEDICAL CARE ONLY AT MEDICAL FACILITIES OF THE UNIFORMED SERVICES PURSUANT TO SECTION 301 (B) OF THE DEPENDENTS' MEDICAL CARE ACT. THE ONLY INTENT OF THIS AMENDMENT IS TO ESTABLISH PARITY BETWEEN RETIRED PERSONNEL OF THE COAST GUARD, COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY, AND PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE AND RETIRED PERSONNEL OF THE MILITARY SERVICES.'

DUE TO SOME MISUNDERSTANDING CONCERNING THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS PROVISION OF PUBLIC LAW 86-415 AND BECAUSE OF DELAY BY THE DEPARTMENT IN NOTIFYING THE CONTRACT FACILITIES THAT RETIRED PERSONNEL NO LONGER WERE ELIGIBLE FOR TREATMENT AT SUCH FACILITIES, SOME OF THE CONTRACT FACILITIES CONSTITUTED TO FURNISH TREATMENT THROUGH MAY 1960.

IT IS STATED THAT THE CONTRACT FACILITIES INVOLVED ACTED IN GOOD FAITH AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH PAST PRACTICES AND AUTHORIZATIONS AND IT APPEARS THAT THEY CEASED TO RENDER SERVICES FOR RETIRED COAST GUARD PERSONNEL AS SOON AS PROPER NOTIFICATION OF THE CHANGE IN THE LAW WAS RECEIVED FROM THE DEPARTMENT. IN VIEW OF THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, PARTICULARLY SINCE THE CLAIMANTS HAD NO REASON TO QUESTION THE ADMINISTRATIVE CERTIFICATIONS REGARDING THE PATIENTS' ENTITLEMENT TO TREATMENT IT IS OUR VIEW THAT THE CLAIMANTS ARE ENTITLED TO PAYMENT FOR SUPPLIES AND SERVICES RENDERED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THEIR CONTRACTS. SEE 16 COMP. GEN. 67; 7 ID. 225, AND CASES CITED THEREIN.

ACCORDINGLY, IF THE VOUCHERS RETURNED HEREWITH ARE OTHERWISE CORRECT PAYMENT THEREOF WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED BY OUR OFFICE.