B-28231, SEPTEMBER 15, 1942, 22 COMP. GEN. 227

B-28231: Sep 15, 1942

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SUCH AUTHORITY IS IMPLIED BY THE POWER TO ORDER THE TRANSFER OF THE PATIENTS THEMSELVES. 1942: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 17. THE FEDERAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR IS AUTHORIZED TO ADMIT. UNDER AUTHORITY OF THIS ORDER AND THE STRESS OF THE PRESENT SITUATION 400 PATIENTS HAVE ALREADY HAD TO BE TRANSFERRED FROM SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITAL AT FORT WORTH. IT IS DESIRED TO TRANSFER THESE FUNDS TO THE MEDICAL OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITAL AT FORT WORTH. IT IS NOT CLEAR FROM EITHER THE EXECUTIVE ORDER OR THE STATUTES RELATING TO THE RESPECTIVE INSTITUTIONS OR FROM YOUR PREVIOUS DECISIONS WITH REGARD TO THE TRANSFER OF FUNDS OF PATIENTS FROM SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL WHETHER THIS MAY PROPERLY BE DONE.

B-28231, SEPTEMBER 15, 1942, 22 COMP. GEN. 227

TRANSFERRED SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL PATIENTS - TRANSFERS OF PERSONAL AND PENSION FUNDS ALTHOUGH EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9079, AUTHORIZING THE TRANSFER OF INSANE PERSONS FROM ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITALS AT LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY, AND FORT WORTH, TEXAS, CONTAINS NO SPECIFIC DIRECTION TO TRANSFER THE PERSONAL AND PENSIONS FUNDS TO THE CREDIT OF SUCH TRANSFERRED PATIENTS, SUCH AUTHORITY IS IMPLIED BY THE POWER TO ORDER THE TRANSFER OF THE PATIENTS THEMSELVES, PROVIDED THAT IN CASES WHERE A COMMITTEE OR GUARDIAN HAS CONTROL OF THE FUNDS OF A PATIENT, PROPER ACQUITTANCE OR RELEASE BE OBTAINED IN RESPECT OF THE TRANSFER OF SUCH FUNDS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE FEDERAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR, SEPTEMBER 15, 1942:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 17, 1942, AS FOLLOWS:

BY EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9079, DATED FEBRUARY 26, 1942, THE FEDERAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR IS AUTHORIZED TO ADMIT, TO THE EXTENT THAT HE MAY DEEM DESIRABLE, INSANE PERSONS (EXCEPT THOSE FROM THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA) TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITALS AT LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY, AND FORT WORTH, TEXAS, FOR CARE AND TREATMENT, UPON THE SAME TERMS AND CONDITIONS AS SUCH PERSONS MAY BE ENTITLED TO ADMISSION TO SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, AND ALSO TO TRANSFER PERSONS OF THE SAME CLASS FOR THE SAME PURPOSE FROM SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL TO THE SAID PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITALS. UNDER AUTHORITY OF THIS ORDER AND THE STRESS OF THE PRESENT SITUATION 400 PATIENTS HAVE ALREADY HAD TO BE TRANSFERRED FROM SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITAL AT FORT WORTH, TEXAS. IN THE CASE OF CERTAIN OF THESE PATIENTS THERE REMAIN ON THE BOOKS OF SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL CERTAIN BALANCES OF BOTH PERSONAL AND PENSION FUNDS TO THEIR CREDIT. IT IS DESIRED TO TRANSFER THESE FUNDS TO THE MEDICAL OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITAL AT FORT WORTH, BUT IT IS NOT CLEAR FROM EITHER THE EXECUTIVE ORDER OR THE STATUTES RELATING TO THE RESPECTIVE INSTITUTIONS OR FROM YOUR PREVIOUS DECISIONS WITH REGARD TO THE TRANSFER OF FUNDS OF PATIENTS FROM SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL WHETHER THIS MAY PROPERLY BE DONE.

THE EXECUTIVE ORDER CONTAINS NO PROVISION PERTAINING TO THIS SUBJECT OTHER THAN AS ABOVE STATED, AND IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE ACT OF JANUARY 19, 1929 (45 STAT. 1089, 21 U.S.C. 221-237) WHICH AUTHORIZED THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITALS IN QUESTION, CONTAINS NO PROVISION WITH REGARD TO THE FUNDS OF PATIENTS IN THOSE HOSPITALS, IT MAY BE THAT IT COULD NOT APPROPRIATELY HAVE DONE SO. YOU HAVE RENDERED A NUMBER OF DECISIONS (SEE 5 C.G. 890, 17 C.G. 120, 20 C.G. 403) WITH REGARD TO THE HANDLING OF SUCH FUNDS WHERE PATIENTS ARE TRANSFERRED TO VETERANS' FACILITIES, BUT YOUR CONCLUSIONS THEREIN APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN GROUNDED TO SUCH A LARGE EXTENT UPON THE PROVISIONS OF THE STATUTES AND REGULATIONS PERTAINING TO VETERANS AND VETERANS' FACILITIES THAT WE ARE NOT ENTIRELY SURE WHETHER THEY CAN BE ACCEPTED AS PRECEDENTS IN CASES INVOLVING TRANSFERS TO OTHER HOSPITALS.

ACCORDINGLY, THIS AGENCY WOULD APPRECIATE ADVICE FROM YOUR OFFICE AS TO THE PROPER PROCEDURE FOR TRANSFERRING FUNDS OF THE PATIENTS ABOVE REFERRED TO.

SECTION 4839, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED, AND AS IT APPEARS IN 24 U.S.C. 165, PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

* * * THE SUPERINTENDENT * * * SHALL, SUBJECT TO THE APPROVAL OF THE BOARD OF VISITORS, APPOINT A RESPONSIBLE DISBURSING AGENT FOR THE INSTITUTION, WHO SHALL GIVE A BOND SATISFACTORY TO THE FEDERAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR * * * THE SAID DISBURSING AGENT, UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE SUPERINTENDENT, SHALL HAVE THE CUSTODY OF AND PAY OUT ALL MONEYS APPROPRIATED BY CONGRESS FOR SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, OR OTHERWISE RECEIVED FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE HOSPITAL, AND ALL MONEYS RECEIVED BY THE SUPERINTENDENT IN BEHALF OF THE HOSPITAL OR ITS PATIENTS AND KEEP AN ACCURATE ACCOUNT OR ACCOUNTS THEREOF. THE SAID DISBURSING AGENT SHALL DEPOSIT IN THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES, UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE SUPERINTENDENT, ALL FUNDS WHICH MAY BE INTRUSTED TO THE LATTER BY OR FOR THE USE OF PATIENTS, WHICH SHALL BE KEPT IN A SEPARATE ACCOUNT; AND THE SAID DISBURSING AGENT IS AUTHORIZED TO DRAW THEREFROM, UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE SAID SUPERINTENDENT, FROM TIME TO TIME, UNDER SUCH REGULATIONS AS THE FEDERAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR MAY PRESCRIBE, FOR THE USE OF SUCH PATIENTS, BUT NOT TO EXCEED FOR ANY ONE PATIENT THE AMOUNT INTRUSTED TO THE SUPERINTENDENT ON ACCOUNT OF SUCH PATIENT. * * *

THIS OFFICE HAS HELD THAT UPON THE TRANSFER OF AN INCOMPETENT VETERAN FROM SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL TO A VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, BOTH THE PENSION AND PERSONAL FUNDS OF THE VETERAN MAY BE TRANSFERRED WITH HIM. 17 COMP. GEN. 120; 20 ID. 403. HOWEVER, THESE DECISIONS, ARE BASED- -- AS SUGGESTED BY YOU--- UPON THE PARTICULAR LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLICABLE TO VETERANS. THUS, IN THE DECISION 20 COMP. GEN. 403, 406 IT WAS STATED:

IN VIEW OF THE BROAD POWERS VESTED BY LAW IN THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS WITH RESPECT TO THE DOMICILIARY CARE OF VETERANS, THE MANAGERS OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITIES BEING CHARGED WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CARE AND CUSTODY OF FUNDS RECEIVED FROM THE GOVERNMENT AND OTHER SOURCES, IT MAY WELL BE SAID THAT THE TRANSFER OF PERSONAL FUNDS, AS WELL AS "PENSION" FUNDS, TO THE CREDIT OF A VETERAN COMMITTED TO ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL AND WHO IS LATER TRANSFERRED TO A VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION FACILITY, IS CONSISTENT AND COMPATIBLE WITH EXISTING LAW APPLICABLE TO ST. ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL, NAMELY, THAT PART OF SECTION 1 OF THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 2, 1909, 35 STAT. 593, PROVIDING---

"* * * THAT IN THE CASE OF ANY PENSIONER TRANSFERRED TO THE HOSPITAL FROM THE NATIONAL HOME FOR DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS (NOW A PART OF THE VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION), ANY PENSION MONEY TO HIS CREDIT AT SAID HOME AT THE TIME OF HIS SAID TRANSFER SHALL BE TRANSFERRED WITH HIM TO SAID HOSPITAL AND PLACED TO HIS CREDIT THEREIN, TO BE EXPENDED AS HEREINBEFORE PROVIDED, AND IN CASE OF HIS RETURN FROM SAID HOSPITAL TO THE HOME ANY BALANCE TO HIS CREDIT AT SAID HOSPITAL SHALL IN LIKE MANNER BE TRANSFERRED TO SAID HOME, TO BE EXPENDED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RULES ESTABLISHED IN REGARD THERETO. * * *"

HOWEVER, THE FOLLOWING LANGUAGE APPEARING IN DECISION OF JUNE 20, 1924, A -2080, WOULD APPEAR PERTINENT IN YOUR PRESENT INQUIRY:

IF THE MONEYS BELONG TO A CLASS OF PATIENTS AS TO WHICH THE LAW HAS DIRECTED NO SPECIFIC APPLICATION OF THEIR MONEYS WHILE PATIENTS OF THE HOSPITAL, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT UPON A TRANSFER OF THE PATIENT TO ANOTHER HOSPITAL OR INSTITUTION THE MONEYS OF THE PATIENT SHOULD FOLLOW THE PATIENT AND BE TRANSFERRED TO THE OTHER HOSPITAL OR INSTITUTION, IT BEING UNDERSTOOD THAT OTHER PROPERTY OF THE PATIENT THAN MONEY WOULD BE SO TRANSFERRED. IN THIS CONNECTION THE AUTHORITY OR ORDER WHICH DIRECTS THE TRANSFER OF THE PATIENT MAY HAVE SOME BEARING. IF THERE BE SUCH AN ORDER GIVEN BY COMPETENT AUTHORITY IT SHOULD INCLUDE A DIRECTION AS TO THE DISPOSITION OF THE MONEYS OR PROPERTY OF THE PATIENT, THERE BEING INCLUDED A CONSENT TO SUCH DISPOSITION OF THE MONEYS BY THOSE SO RELATED OR CONNECTED WITH THE PATIENT AS MAY PROPERLY GIVE SUCH CONSENT; OR BY THOSE WHOSE CONSENT IS ORDINARILY REQUIRED TO BE OBTAINED IN OTHER MATTERS CONCERNING THE WELFARE OF THE PATIENT; OBSERVING ALSO, THAT IF THERE BE A COMMITTEE OF THE PERSON OR PROPERTY OF THE PATIENT, THAT THE ACQUITTANCE OF SUCH COMMITTEE FOR THE DELIVERY OF THE MONEYS OR OTHER PROPERTY OF THE PATIENT BE OBTAINED.

FOLLOWING THE REASONING OF THAT DECISION IT MAY BE CONCLUDED THAT ALTHOUGH EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 9079 CONTAINS NO SPECIFIC DIRECTION TO TRANSFER THE PERSONAL EFFECTS OF THE PATIENTS--- INCLUDING PERSONAL AND PENSION FUNDS TO THEIR CREDIT--- SUCH AUTHORITY IS IMPLIED BY THE POWER TO ORDER THE TRANSFER OF THE PATIENTS THEMSELVES, PROVIDED, THAT IN SUCH CASES WHERE A COMMITTEE OR GUARDIAN HAS CONTROL OF THE FUNDS OF A PATIENT PROPER ACQUITTANCE OR RELEASE WILL BE OBTAINED IN RESPECT OF SUCH TRANSFER.

YOUR LETTER SUGGESTS THAT THESE FUNDS BE TRANSFERRED TO THE MEDICAL OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITAL AT FORT WORTH. HAS BEEN INFORMALLY ASCERTAINED THAT THE ACTUAL HANDLING OF FUNDS OF PATIENTS AT THAT INSTITUTION IS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF AN AGENT CASHIER WHO IS A BONDED OFFICIAL. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, IT MAY BE PREFERABLE TO HAVE THE FUNDS IN QUESTION TRANSFERRED DIRECT TO THE AGENT CASHIER AT THE INSTITUTION AT FORT WORTH RATHER THAN TO THE MEDICAL OFFICER IN CHARGE.