B-212562, DECEMBER 6, 1983, 63 COMP.GEN. 96

B-212562: Dec 6, 1983

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

WHO WAS REQUIRED TO UNDERGO A FITNESS-FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION AND WHO. MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR THE COST OF THESE TESTS EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE RELIED UPON BY THE PHYSICIAN ADMINISTERING THE FITNESS-FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION. COSTS OF TREATMENT ARE PERSONAL TO THE EMPLOYEE. 1983: THE ISSUE IN THIS DECISION IS WHETHER AN EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE COST OF MEDICAL TESTS CONDUCTED IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO A FITNESS FOR- DUTY EXAMINATION WHERE THE EXAMINING PHYSICIAN RELIED ON THE RESULTS OF THE TESTS IN DETERMINING THE EMPLOYEE'S FITNESS FOR DUTY. BECAUSE THE TESTS WERE OBTAINED FOR AND RELATED TO TREATMENT OF THE EMPLOYEE'S ILLNESS (WHICH ALSO RESULTED IN THE FITNESS-FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION) THEIR EXPENSE IS PERSONAL TO THE EMPLOYEE AND MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED SIMPLY BECAUSE THE TEST RESULTS WERE RELIED UPON BY THE PHYSICIAN WHO CONDUCTED THE FITNESS-FOR- DUTY EXAMINATION.

B-212562, DECEMBER 6, 1983, 63 COMP.GEN. 96

MEDICAL TREATMENT - OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES - EMPLOYEE V. GOVERNMENT INTEREST AN EMPLOYEE, WHO WAS REQUIRED TO UNDERGO A FITNESS-FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION AND WHO, PRIOR TO THE EXAMINATION, UNDERWENT MEDICAL TESTS IN THE COURSE OF DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT, MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FOR THE COST OF THESE TESTS EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE RELIED UPON BY THE PHYSICIAN ADMINISTERING THE FITNESS-FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION. COSTS OF TREATMENT ARE PERSONAL TO THE EMPLOYEE. USE OF THE TESTS BY THE PHYSICIAN PERFORMING THE FITNESS-FOR- DUTY EXAMINATION AS PART OF THE MEDICAL HISTORY FURNISHED BY THE EMPLOYEE DID NOT RESULT IN ANY COST TO THE EMPLOYEE BEYOND THAT ALREADY INCURRED FOR TREATMENT.

MATTER OF: CHESTER A. LANEHART, DECEMBER 6, 1983:

THE ISSUE IN THIS DECISION IS WHETHER AN EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR THE COST OF MEDICAL TESTS CONDUCTED IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO A FITNESS FOR- DUTY EXAMINATION WHERE THE EXAMINING PHYSICIAN RELIED ON THE RESULTS OF THE TESTS IN DETERMINING THE EMPLOYEE'S FITNESS FOR DUTY. BECAUSE THE TESTS WERE OBTAINED FOR AND RELATED TO TREATMENT OF THE EMPLOYEE'S ILLNESS (WHICH ALSO RESULTED IN THE FITNESS-FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION) THEIR EXPENSE IS PERSONAL TO THE EMPLOYEE AND MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED SIMPLY BECAUSE THE TEST RESULTS WERE RELIED UPON BY THE PHYSICIAN WHO CONDUCTED THE FITNESS-FOR- DUTY EXAMINATION.

THIS ACTION RESULTS FROM THE REQUEST OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES FOR A DECISION ON THE CLAIM OF MR. CHESTER A. LANEHART FILED ON JULY 29, 1983, UNDER THE PROCEDURES OF 4 C.F.R. PART 22 (1983). A COPY OF THE REQUEST WAS SERVED ON THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE, MR. LANEHART'S EMPLOYER, AS REQUIRED BY 4 C.F.R. 22.4. NO OBJECTION HAS BEEN RECEIVED FROM THE AIR FORCE, AND NO GRIEVANCE HAS BEEN FILED. ACCORDINGLY, THIS MATTER IS CONSIDERED TO BE A JOINT REQUEST OF THE LABOR ORGANIZATION AND THE AGENCY. 4 C.F.R. 22.7(B).

MR. LANEHART IS EMPLOYED AS A FIREMAN AT ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, WASHINGTON, D.C. ON FEBRUARY 11, 1983, HE EXPERIENCED DIFFICULTY IN BREATHING AND WAS TREATED AND RELEASED AT AN EMERGENCY FACILITY. THE RESULTS OF A SUBSEQUENT PULMONARY FUNCTION TEST LED TO HIS BEING PLACED ON RESTRICTED DUTY, AND ON MARCH 22, 1983, HE WAS ORDERED TO UNDERGO A FITNESS-FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION. A BOARD CERTIFIED PULMONARY SPECIALIST NAMED BY THE EMPLOYEE WAS SELECTED TO CONDUCT THE EXAMINATION, AND THE EXAMINATION WAS SCHEDULED BY THE AGENCY FOR APRIL 20, 1983.

MR. LANEHART VISITED HIS FAMILY DOCTOR AND OTHER SPECIALISTS PRIOR TO THE FITNESS-FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION. ON APRIL 6, 1983, HE UNDERWENT AN OPERATION TO CORRECT A SEVERE NASAL OBSTRUCTION. INCIDENT TO THAT SURGERY HE RECEIVED AN EKG, A CHEST X-RAY, AND LABORATORY TESTS. SUBSEQUENTLY, HE RECEIVED A SECOND PULMONARY FUNCTION TEST AND AN EKG STRESS TEST. WHEN MR. LANEHART REPORTED FOR HIS FITNESS-FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION, HE OFFERED THE RESULTS OF THOSE TESTS TO THE EXAMINING PHYSICIAN WHO COPIED THEM AND SPECIFICALLY REFERRED TO THE X-RAY, EKG, AND PULMONARY FUNCTION TESTS IN HIS REPORT TO THE AGENCY.

ALTHOUGH THE MAJOR PORTION OF THAT EXPENSE WAS PAID BY HIS INSURANCE AGENCY, MR. LANEHART SUBMITTED A CLAIM FOR THE $1,136 AMOUNT ORIGINALLY BILLED FOR THE TESTS. THIS CLAIM WAS DENIED BY THE AIR FORCE ON JUNE 16, 1983, ON THE BASIS THAT THE "TESTS WERE NOT REQUESTED AND ACCOMPLISHED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT." IN ADDITION, THE AIR FORCE QUESTIONED THE EXTENT TO WHICH MR. LANEHART HAD INCURRED OUT-OF POCKET EXPENSES FOR THE AMOUNTS CLAIMED.

A FEDERAL AGENCY HAS AUTHORITY TO DIRECT AN EMPLOYEE TO SUBMIT A FITNESS- FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION WHEN QUESTIONS ARISE CONCERNING HIS PHYSICAL CAPACITY TO CONTINUE WORKING IN HIS ASSIGNED POSITION. YATES V. UNITED STATES, 220 CT.CL. 669, 670 (1979). SEE ALSO FEDERAL PERSONNEL MANUAL CHAPTER 339 AND SUPPLEMENT 752-1. WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT AN AGENCY MAY USE APPROPRIATED FUNDS TO PAY FOR PHYSICAL EXAMINATIONS OF ITS EMPLOYEES WHEN THOSE EXAMINATIONS ARE PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE EMPLOYEES CONCERNED. 49 COMP.GEN. 794 (1970); 41 COMP.GEN. 531 (1962). AS NOTED BY THE UNION WE HAVE ALSO HELD THAT EMPLOYEES MAY BE REIMBURSED REASONABLE TRAVEL EXPENSES IN CONNECTION WITH SUCH EXAMINATIONS IF THOSE EXPENSES ARE DETERMINED TO BE NECESSARY AND FOR THE GOVERNMENT'S BENEFIT. MATTER OF TRAVEL EXPENSES, 62 COMP.GEN. 294 (1983). 9, SUBCHAPTER 1-3(C), AN EMPLOYEE WHO IS REQUIRED TO UNDERGO A FITNESS-FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION AS A CONDITION OF CONTINUED EMPLOYMENT MAY CHOOSE TO BE EXAMINED EITHER BY A FEDERAL MEDICAL OFFICER OR BY A PRIVATE PHYSICIAN OF HIS OWN CHOICE WHO HAS BEEN FOUND TO BE ACCEPTABLE TO THE AGENCY CONCERNED. CONSISTENT WITH OUR HOLDING, THE REGULATION STATES THAT WHEN THE AGENCY REQUIRES SUCH A FITNESS-FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION, THERE MUST BE NO COST TO THE EMPLOYEE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE EXAMINATION IS PERFORMED BY A FEDERAL MEDICAL OFFICER OR BY AN EMPLOYEE-DESIGNATED PHYSICIAN. B-155489, DECEMBER 10, 1964. WHILE WE HAVE HELD THAT THIS REGULATION REQUIRES AN AGENCY TO PAY CERTAIN COSTS DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE EXAMINATION, SUCH AS TRANSPORTATION AND PER DIEM, WE HAVE DISTINGUISHED BETWEEN EXPENSES ASSOCIATED WITH THE EXAMINATION ITSELF AND THOSE RELATED TO TREATMENT AND HAVE DISALLOWED THE LATTER. 49 COMP.GEN. 794 (1970). THE DISALLOWANCE OF EXPENSES OF TREATMENT ARE PERSONAL TO THE EMPLOYEE AND PAYMENT THEREFOR MAY NOT BE MADE FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS UNLESS PROVIDED FOR IN A CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT OR BY STATUTE OR VALID REGULATION. COMP.GEN. 230 (1973); MATTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, 57 COMP.GEN. 62 (1977).

IN THIS CASE, MR. LANEHART SOUGHT DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT PRIOR TO THE FITNESS-FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION. THE TESTS WERE CONDUCTED FOR THOSE PURPOSES AND IN THE ABSENCE OF AN AGENCY-DIRECTED EXAMINATION, THERE WOULD BE NO QUESTION BUT THAT HE IS PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PORTION OF THEIR EXPENSE NOT PAID OR REIMBURSED BY HIS INSURANCE AGENCY. THOSE EXPENSES ARE PERSONAL. MR. LANEHART'S DETERMINATION TO OFFER THOSE TEST RESULTS TO THE PHYSICIAN WHO CONDUCTED THE FITNESS-FOR DUTY EXAMINATION AS PART OF HIS MEDICAL HISTORY DOES NOT CHANGE THEIR CHARACTER. ALTHOUGH THE EXAMINING PHYSICIAN WAS ABLE TO RELY ON THE TEST RESULTS AND POSSIBLY SPARED THE AGENCY THE COST OF PERFORMING SIMILAR TESTS, HIS RELIANCE ON THOSE TESTS DID NOT RESULT IN COSTS TO THE EMPLOYEE ABOVE AND BEYOND THOSE HE HAD ALREADY INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE TREATMENT OF HIS PHYSICAL CONDITION. UNLIKE THE COST OF TRAVEL HELD TO BE REIMBURSABLE IN MATTER OF TRAVEL EXPENSES, CITED ABOVE, THE TESTS WERE PERFORMED INCIDENT TO TREATMENT OF THE EMPLOYEE AND WERE NOT REQUIRED SOLELY AS PART OF THE FITNESS-FOR-DUTY EXAMINATION.

FOR THE REASONS STATED ABOVE, THE EMPLOYEE'S CLAIM MAY NOT BE PAID.