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to secure hospitalization. There is also for consideration the widows and children of deceased veterans who died as a result of disease or injury not incurred in service. These widows and children, it would seem, have as much right to look to the Government for relief as have the wives and children of men hospitalized for nonservice connected disabilities. Further, there are the dependents of men incapacitated for work by reason of nonservice connected disabilities but who need no hospital treatment. Are not these men and their dependents equally entitled to consideration? In other words, to provide for this class of veterans and their dependents by specific amendments without giving consideration to the entire problem would seem unjust, and yet to take care of all without a comprehensive study as to the needs would certainly be unwise.
Therefore, before the adoption of this or any similar amendment it would seem that a joint committee of both Houses of Congress should give careful and sympathetic consideration to the entire problem and within a reasonable time report to Congress as to the best solution of the problem. There is also for consideration the question of whether the wives and children of these men hospitalized for nonservice connected disabilities are entitled to the same relief as the widows and children of men who died in the service or as the result of disease or injury acquired in the service. Certainly, the latter group has a greater right to look to the Government for aid than has the former
The estimated cost of this amendment is approximately $4,000,000 per annum. However, in view of the presumptive clause in section 200 there would be no immediate cost under this provision but as time goes on nonservice connected cases in hospitals will increase so that over a period of years this cost would be appreciable. This estimate is based only upon the number of cases hospitalized during the last year in bureau hospitals. Also, there is for consideration in connection with this amendment the fact that thousands of veterans are now in soldiers' homes under the authority of the Veterans' Bureau and it is possible that a large number would be entitled to the additional allowance for a wife or dependent children. This factor has not been considered in computing the estimate. Further, if the amendment were to be adopted it would no doubt necessitate additions to existing hospitals and additional hospitals, if we are to treat these men equally. To what extent this would increase the Government's hospital program is impossible to estimate, but certainly there would be immediate demand for additional facilities.
Mr. Chairman, this amendment, and the group of men that it is contemplated will be cared for, brings up one of the problems difficult of solution. In other words, there can be no doubt that we all feel pretty much alike regarding these men who find themselves in need, and when we offer hospitalization to them they defer their hospitalization because they can not leave their families to go to the hospital. It raises a very sympathetic problem. At the same time, as soon as you embark upon this amendment, you have taken the first step toward a pension. There can not be any doubt about that. We have recently had a study made as to where we would probably go if we continued our present policy of hospitalizing veterans of nonservice connected disability, and, of course, we should be prepared, if we adopt this amendment, in order not to treat them unequally,
to hospitalize veterans or noncompensable disabilities to the greatest extent. We have found that that step, taking a minimum of what may be expected, will bring about a' tremendous problem of hospitalization in future years. This study was made by the medical council of the bureau, composed of medical specialists who meet and advise the medical service of the bureau. They estimated that the peak load of beds required for hospitalizing all veterans in the year 1950 would reach the total of 129,859. The bureau's estimate for the same year is 62,154. We have made our estimate following our experience up to date. Continuing the bureau's estimate up to 1970, we find that the maximum will be reached in 1965, when it would require 83,129 beds. The magnitude of that problem can best be judged when I tell you that at this time we have provision for about 30,000 beds, and a building program that will contemplate perhaps 10,000 additional beds, so that it would be safe to say that if we continue to construct beds for the noncompensable cases, so that there would be no inequality if this provision were adoptea, we would have to double the number of beds between now and the peak. We feel that our estimate is conservative, and, taking the data of the medical council, it would look to be very conservative, so that the number probably will be found between the medical council's estimate and the bureau's estimate.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. May I make an inquiry about this section? There are two classes of veterans who get hospitalization, those who have service connection and those who have nonservice connection disabilties. Those who have service connection get compensation, of course.
General Hines. Yes, sir.
Senator WALSH of Massachusetts. But their dependents receive nothing?
General Hines. If their disability is temporary and they have dependents, they receive an allowance under the law.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. While they are being hospitalized?
General HINES. Yes.
General Hines. A man receiving hospitalization as a single man gets compensation of $80 a month if he has temporary disability. If he had dependents, he gets an addition for a wife and children. If a disabled person has neither wife not child, he gets $80. If he has a wife but no child living, $90; if he has a wife and one child, $95; and $5 for each additional child; if no wife and one child living, $90, and $5 for each additional child.
Senator WALSH of Massachusetts. Then, those veterans who show service connection, while being hospitalized, receive $10 if they have a wife but no child, and $15 for a wife and one child, is that true?
General Hines. That is in addition to their single compensation.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. This amendment proposes that veterans who go to hospitals, who have nonservice connection, and who are not entitled to compensation, shall be paid, for their wife, with no child, $30 per month, and for a wife with one child, $40 per month. In the former case it is $20 more than the veteran who has service connection receives for a wife with no child, and in the other case it is $25 more. Then, I suppose there are corresponding increases in the other cases.
General Hines. Those rates taken there are based upon the death rates paid to widows and children, under the act.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. They seem to be similar to the death rates. General Hines. They are.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. But is the death rate paid in all cases?
General HINES. No.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Only in cases where service connection is shown.
General Hines. That is right. This goes further, too, by making an allowance of $8 a month to the man, under another amendment that I am coming to.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Why would not this naturally lead to legislation to give the wife and child this compensation in case the veteran who showed nonservice connection died?
General Hines. We have pointed that out, Mr. Chairman. That would be just as fair. As a matter of fact, it would create an inequality if you did not go that far. The CHAIRMAN. It is the natural result.
General Hines. Yes. We recognize, of course, with the service organizations, that we have a problem here, and a very decided one. We differ only in the solution of it. We feel that untii Congress has had an opportunity to study the whole question, to adopt this at this time without knowing how far you might be able to go, may create a situation difficult to straighten out later. There are others whose cases would be equally meritorious, and this would establish a precedent, even though we do say it is only for three years. We have continued our hospitalization of these men for a number of years now. We have had distressing cases. They have been met by various means, and probably it would not be asking too much to defer it until we are sure we can adopt a measure which would answer all the problems that are likely to arise along this line.
Senator BINGHAM. Where did this section originate?
General Hines. With practically all the service organizations. I think it is a part of the Legion program. I know it is a part of the program of the Disabled American Veterans. The Veterans of Foreign Wars take a little different view. They advocated at once the adoption of a pension, which, of course, answers all these conditions.
Senator WALSH of Massachusetts. Is it your opinion that the enlargement of payments by the Government to veterans who show nonservice connection is likely to result in no further expansion to veterans who are disabled and who show service connection?
General HINES. No. I have a feeling that it will result in further expansion of allowances to those men. Otherwise you will not have made the distinction that I feel the Congress would like to make between the men whose disabilities we know are due to service connection ard the men whose disabilities are not due to service.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Of course, there has to be a limit reached some time.
General HINES. Yes.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. What I am trying to find out is whether or not we are going to help the disabled man who shows service connection by enlarging cur expenditures for the veterans who do not show service connection; or whether or not, in the long run, by reason of the large amount of money that would be necessary to be appropriated, it is going to put a clamp upon further benefits for the really disabled men who have service connection.
General Hines. I have a feeling that even if this bill were to become a law, the question of raising funds to pay it might become a problem, and any problem of that kind would reflect back on the actually disabled men who incurred their disability in service.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. In other words, there is a possibility of having here two contending forces, both fighting-perhaps properly so—for appropriations for themselves and their dependents. I was wondering if the result would not be, in the long run, really to the detriment of the really disabled man who had service connection.
General Hines. That has been my opinion, and I have so stated.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. In your answer to my first question, I rather got the opposite impression.
General Hines. I was under the impression that you had asked whether that would result in bringing the others up. I thought you were thinking, then, of bringing them up.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. In a spirit of equity.
General Hines. Yes; in a spirit of equity to the men. But both in my letter to the House and in reporting on the bill, I stated that I feel that the danger is to the actually disabled man whose disability is due to service if we overdo it for the noncompensable man.
Senator, so long as we are on that subject, the inequalities that now exist between the Government's treatment of various veterans are rather startling if you make a study of them. If the committee had the time we could go into that. I feel that that is really a matter for the study of the special committee. But really the enactment of such provisions as the one we are just talking about only again enlarges those inequalities, and, as the cost mounts up, manifestly the public's attention must be called to the large amount that is being expended there, and they are thinking, probably, of the men whose disabilities are due to service. Therefore, any resentment against any large expenditure would necessarily fall gainst the men whose disabilities are due to service.
Section 14 of the bill also amends the act to define the term "Spanish-American War" to mean the period between April 21, 1898, and July 4, 1902, for the purpose of hospitalization under section 202 (10). This amendment has for its purpose the adoption of the same definition for the term “Spanish-American War” as is used in the pension acts which relate to the same class of men. It would seem that if pensions are paid for this period on the theory that the period is that of the Spanish-American War the same period should be accepted by the Veterans' Bureau in considering the right to hospitalization. It is impossible to estimate the cost of this amendment, but it is not believed that it would be material.
The bureau recommends the change.
Section 14 of the bill also amends section 202 (10) of the act by providing that veterans hospitalized under the provisions of the World War veterans' act, as amended, shall be paid a hospital allowance in addition to any other benefits to which they may be entitled at the rate of $8 per month during the period of hospitalization, in the event they certify they are financially in need, unless they are entitled to compensation or pension equal to or in excess of that amount. This amendment is discriminatory in that it provides payment of compensation to those men who are fortunate enough to secure hospitalization, but leaves others who are suffering with disabilities for which they can not be hospitalized because of lack of existing facilities without relief. It is estimated that this amendment would cost approximately $1,200,000 per annum.
What I have said in regard to the allowances for dependents applies equally to this.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. May I interrupt you there? Were your views with respect to the last item mentioned presented to the House committee?
General HINES. No, sir. This amendment was made on the floor, although I think the House committee had my views generally on the question of compensation for nonservice-connected disabilities This particular amendment was put in on the floor of the House.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. Another question. Have you had opportunity, either officially or otherwise, to present your views to those who still favor this amendment?
General HINES No, sir; I have not, except in the letter which was read. I think it was read by Mr. Snell, on the floor of the House.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. Doubtless there are those who continue to favor this provision.
General HINES. Quite a number. They are in the same category, Senator, as those men to whom we offer hospitalization, but who find themselves in such a situation that they can not accept hospitalization because of the need of their families. This is a little broader, in that this would cover the single man as well as the married man. No matter how we may look at it, it is a pension. It must be. But it is only a pension during hospitalization. If we were prepared to take in all the nonservice-connected veterans in our hospitals, we know to-day that some 3,500 of them are on a waiting list to get into Gorernment institutions, and then there would be no distinction between the man who was given hospitalization and the man who was outside, but until we are able to take them all in, there is that discrimination between the veterans.
Section 15 of the bill amends subdivision 15 of section 202 of the act by providing that any person who is now receiving a pension, and who also has a disability of World War origin for which compensation is payable, may waive the pension and have the disability on account of which same is otherwise payable evaluated with his World War disability. Under the present law a veteran of this class must waive pension entirely if he elects to receive compensation. It seems unfair to deprive a veteran of his pension for disability acquired in the service other than during the World War simply because he has acquired another disability during the World War for which he is entitled to compensation. It appeared that the easiest solution to this problem was to consider his otherwise pensionable disability along with his World War disability, evaluate the two under the World War veterans' act, and pay compensation accordingly. It is impossible to estimate the cost of this provision. However, it is not believed that it will be considerable.