Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Austin Wieand and Marianne Wieand, his wife, No. 1394 April Term, 1973.
Robert S. Englesberg, Assistant Attorney General, with him Janet Moschetta, Assistant Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for appellant.
Matthew Verlich, with him Stokes, Lurie & Tracy, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 26 Pa. Commw. Page 180]
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare (DPW) filed a complaint in assumpsit on February 9, 1973 against Austin Wieand*fn1
[ 26 Pa. Commw. Page 181]
(defendant) to recover public funds expended by the DPW on his behalf. The Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County granted judgment in favor of the defendant and the DPW has appealed, presenting the issue as to whether or not the DPW can use a per diem rate to compute the amount of money recoverable from a hospital patient.
On June 14, 1968, the defendant was involuntarily committed to Torrance State Hospital. On August 4, 1971, he signed a voluntary commitment application and, on November 2, 1971, he was discharged.*fn2 Section 501 of the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act (Act), 50 P.S. § 4501 provides that "[w]henever public funds are expended under any provision of this act on behalf of a mentally disabled person, the governmental body expending such funds may
[ 26 Pa. Commw. Page 182]
recover the same from such person subject to the regulations of the department and for this purpose liability is hereby imposed upon such person admitted, committed or otherwise receiving any service or benefit under this act for all costs, payments or expenditures with reference thereto, including but not being limited to the costs of admission or commitment, transportation, treatment, training, maintenance, complete care, partial care or aftercare and discharge."
The DPW, pursuant to Section 504 of the Act,*fn3 50 P.S. § 4504, had determined that the defendant was financially capable of paying all costs attributable to his commitment*fn4 and billed the defendant for the moneys allegedly expended on his behalf in the total amount of $12,847.76, of which $8,412.80 has been paid, and filed suit seeking the balance of $4,434.96. Mr. Elridge Rager, the hospital's revenue agent, testified that the defendant was billed a per diem charge for each day spent in the hospital and that the DPW determined ...