Tribes still waiting for IHS contract support cost settlements

Negotiations between the Indian Health Service and Alaska Tribal healthcare providers continue, with 11 providers still in negotiations.

So far, 12 providers have settled for a total about $449 million in payments over the last several months, according to information provided by Sen. Mark Begich’s office.

Contract support costs are what Tribal organizations pay to manage Tribal health programs. In 2012, the Supreme Court said that Tribes should be fully compensated for the cost of delivering federal trust responsibilities, such as health care. Now, the IHS is working to repay those groups for prior years when they were not reimbursed for their full costs.

Begich’s office provided the updated settlement information Aug. 13 after a meeting with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, or ANTHC.

“The federal government has broken too many promises with tribes and though we have more work to do, I am pleased that we are seeing good progress with Alaska tribes receiving the money they are owed,” Begich said in a formal statement. “Failure to pay the full costs is unacceptable and I will continue to use my position on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to keep up the pressure on the federal government.”

ANTHC has received the largest share of the money, with a $153 million settlement — including $115.5 for the actual past-due costs and $37.7 million in interest — this summer. Southcentral Foundation received the next largest settlement, at about $128 million.

Chugachmuit, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc.,  Kenaitze Tribe, Knik Tribal Council, the Native Village of Eklutna, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Tanana Chiefs Conference Title I, Tanana Tribal Council and Kodiak Area Native Association are listed as still in negotiations, while the Copper River Native Association and Eastern Aleutian Tribes, Inc. have offers forthcoming.

According to the statement, Begich also helped to include $800 million for contract support costs in the 2015 Senate Interior Appropriations Bill, including $617 million for IHS costs and $246 million for Bureau of Indian Affairs, or BIA, costs. The bill also includes $85 million for IHS staffing and operating costs for healthcare facilities.
Begich has held up IHS Acting Director Yvette Roubideaux’s confirmation until progress is made on the contract support claims.

08/14/2014 - 8:39am