Council increases CNB dividend for contract health care
11/21/2011 11:09:29 AM
 
Tribal Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr., left, stands with Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden, right, as Principal Chief Bill John Baker signs his first piece of legislation, the Cherokee Nation Corporation Health Dividend Act of 2011. This bill increases the percentage of the profits the tribe directly receives from its for-profit corporations, from 30 percent to 35 percent, with the additional 5 percent earmarked for contract health services across the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county jurisdiction. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Tribal Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr., left, stands with Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden, right, as Principal Chief Bill John Baker signs his first piece of legislation, the Cherokee Nation Corporation Health Dividend Act of 2011. This bill increases the percentage of the profits the tribe directly receives from its for-profit corporations, from 30 percent to 35 percent, with the additional 5 percent earmarked for contract health services across the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county jurisdiction. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
By WILL CHAVEZ Senior Reporter TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed into law on Nov. 21 the Corporation Health Dividend Act of 2011, which adds 5 percent to the 30 percent dividend that Cherokee Nation Businesses provides to the Nation for health care needs. According to the act, the additional 5 percent will be “set aside exclusively for contract health services” for CN citizens. The act also states funds “shall be expended to Cherokee Nation citizens who reside anywhere” within the CN’s 14-county jurisdictional area. “Our people should be pleased with this,” Baker said. “This will go a long way to making sure the health needs of the Cherokee people across our 14 counties are being met.” Baker originally sponsored the legislation when he was on the Tribal Council. Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr., a current sponsor, said it’s estimated that the legislation would yield $5 million for health care services including, but not limited to, eyeglasses, dentures, prosthesis, cancer treatments and hearing aids “provided the amount of increase over the current 30 percent is conditioned upon CNB remaining in compliance with the financial covenants of any credit agreement and guaranty.” Councilors passed the act Nov. 14 by an 11-4 vote with Councilors Jack Baker, Julia Coates, Lee Keener and Cara Cowan Watts voting against it. Before the vote, Cowan Watts requested a friendly amendment to the act clarifying that the dividend increase would only come from “for profit” corporations and not nonprofits such as the Cherokee Heritage Center. Her amendment request, which was accepted, was part of a larger amendment request sponsored by her, Buel Anglen and Keener. Keener requested that the additional dividend funds be set aside exclusively for in-patient and out-patient contract health services as defined by tribal Health Service policy for CN citizens living within the jurisdiction who are not currently served by contract health services. Keener also asked that Health Services monitor contract health services at Claremore Indian Hospital, Miami Clinic and Muscogee Creek Nation clinics to ensure CN citizens are not being denied solely because of the new dividend funding. “I want to ensure that those that qualify for any help will get it,” Keener said. “I just want to ensure that whoever gets the (dividend) money will be a Cherokee citizen.” Hoskin rejected Keener’s request because he said some of its content is already in the dividend legislation, and the request limited health coverage for citizens. “I don’t accept because it starts to draw lines. Even though the federal government has compelled us to draw some lines, I don’t think we need to be in the business of drawing lines,” Hoskin said. ‘I think we have mechanisms in place that Cherokee citizens get this money whether they live in Craig County or they live in Cherokee County. I think the legislation as written will do that.” Cowan Watts said the contract health services issue is a difficult one because of a lack of funding. Contract health services are specialty services such as cancer treatments, heart surgeries or advanced diabetic care provided outside an Indian Health Service-funded facility. She added that it was suggested in committee that CNB provide an additional 10 percent rather than 5 percent to fund contract health care, but that suggestion was rejected. “I think it falls short as it’s written today. It’s even more grievous when we’re looking at serving 14 counties under the existing structure of contract health services,” Cowan Watts said. Before the meeting, she provided a letter that Claremore Indian Hospital gives to patients inquiring about contract health care. In it, written by hospital CEO James Cussen, patients are informed that northeastern Oklahoma has varied contract health service areas, and each area has established different contract health priorities. Also, eligible patients must use the clinic or hospital assigned to the county they live in for their contract health requests, the letter states. The act became affective with Baker’s signature.
will-chavez@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
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