Osages don’t have to wait any longer. The Health Benefit Card applications for the $500 debit card will be mailed out next week.
“I am happy to report that the applications for the Osage Nation Limited Health Benefit Plan have been finalized and sent to the printer, and all the agreements submitted for our review have been signed,” said Matt McDonald, Executive Branch legal counsel. “We anticipate that the applications will be mailed out some time next week.”
All Osages over the age of 18 are eligible for the $500 health benefit card as long as they have an Osage Nation membership card, not to be confused with a CDIB card, which is a certificate of degree of Indian blood. All Osages under the age of 18 are eligible for a $500 reimbursement and won’t be receiving a card.
“All paper claims [for minors] will be on a reimbursement basis, to prevent fraud. What MAA wants to insure is that the funds are actually being used for the child,” said Hepsi Barnett, Executive Branch Chief of Staff in a previous Osage News story. “In order to receive a reimbursement check the tribal member will submit documentation, the service provider, the amount paid and a description of services provided.”
Parents will be asked to provide documentation that reflects the expenses incurred were medical, McDonald said.
“Specifically, I was told that credit card statements or a copy of a check would not be sufficient,” McDonald said in a previous Osage News story. “However, most service providers should be able to issue a detailed statement of services that would satisfy these requirements.”
“In the case of vendors, a sales receipt will likely suffice, particularly if paired with verifying information such as a prescription slip,” McDonald said. “Once documentation has been received, reimbursement checks should arrive within 7-10 business days.”
The Osage News requested a copy of the contract between the Nation and MAA from the Chief’s Office Feb. 9 but has yet to hear a response.
Currently the Osage Nation has 18,149 active CDIB holders and 11,767 active membership card holders, according to the Nation’s CDIB office. Having a membership card gives a person access to all the benefits the Nation provides such as the $500 health benefit card and Osage Nation scholarships. A CDIB card is issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and states how much Osage blood a person has.
The applications will be mailed to the address that the Nation’s CDIB office has on file for each tribal member. Once tribal members receive their applications they are to fill them out and send them back to MAA, not the Nation. Once MAA receives the completed application they will process it and send the tribal member an encoded debit card worth $500.
The debit card allows payment for all items that the Internal Revenue Service considers tax-deductible medical expenses. The debit card covers most medical expenses except for abortions, which the Osage Nation Congress declined to fund.
Some of the items on the IRS-approved list includes eyeglasses, dentures, braces, wheelchairs, alcoholism treatment, insulin treatment, surgery (except cosmetic procedures), hearing aids, medical transportation expenses, prescription costs, some over-the-counter drug costs, vaccines, X-rays, home repair if medically needed and other items. Reimbursement for eligible medical expenses will also be available.
Osages must spend the entire $500 by the end of the calendar year—there is no carryover of unspent funds to the next year. However, Osages can reapply for subsequent years as long as funding is available.
The Osage Nation Congress passed the $5.1 million health benefit plan that will provide Osages everywhere with a $500 medical debit card in the 2008 Tzi-Zho session. Applications will be accepted throughout the calendar year.
To update your address with the CDIB office, call (918) 287-5390. For more information about the $500 health benefit card, call Constituent Services at (918) 287-5662. To view a list of IRS-approved tax-deductible medical expenses click here: Health Expenses Eligibility List