The Osage Nation Health and Wellness Advisory Board is planning to meet with government officials to discuss legislation which will lengthen its life. It’s slated to sunset at the end of September.
The board was created through a 2007 legislation bill to start developing the structure of the Nation’s Health and Wellness Division. But the bill (ONCA 07-59) states the board will be “disestablished after a period of three years from the effective date.” Former Principal Chief Jim Gray signed the bill on Oct.3 of that year after the Osage Nation Congress passed the bill with a 7-4 vote.
“The board was created as an advisory one,” said Dr. Ron Shaw, the health board’s chairman. He addressed several executive and legislative branch officials who attended the health board’s Aug. 9 meeting. That means the board’s duties which include making decisions on health-related matters are made as recommendations to government officials, he said.
The health board has hired two consultant organizations to work with the board during its tenure, Shaw said. One consultant evaluated the Health and Wellness Division recommendations compiled and the other consultant conducted a feasibility study on whether the Pawhuska Indian Health Service clinic should be compacted.
One recommendation raised in the IHS clinic compacting study is the Nation should create a governing board, “which is required for compacting,” Shaw said.
According to the study, said Shaw, the governing board should “evaluate and improve the quality of health services provided to the community, provide for meaningful financial resources for ongoing operations and capital needs, provide for the selection and retention of qualified staff – to include the special requirements for licensed and credentialed personnel, to plant programs for the health needs of the community.”
This is the board’s first gathering since the July 19 runoff election in which John Red Eagle was elected Principal Chief and Scott BigHorse Assistant Principal Chief.
BigHorse, who attended the meeting, recommended more meetings between the health board and government officials, including Red Eagle, to pursue legislation that could prolong the health board and possibly turn it into the governing board which would pursue further IHS clinic compacting efforts, according to the feasibility study recommendations.
Red Eagle was at a gaming commission meeting held at the same time of the health board gathering.
The health board also plans to meet with Congressional members who sit on the Congressional Committee on Health and Social Services which is scheduled to meet on Sept. 7. The chairman of that committee is Congressman Archie Mason and vice chairwoman is Congresswoman Alice Goodfox.