Congress to reconvene for 13th Special Session Jan. 4

Osages who are age 65 and over may receive a $500 increase to their use of the health benefit card program, pending Congressional approval.

The Second Osage Nation Congress will convene for its 13th Special Session on Jan. 4 to set the maximum payable amounts for the Nation’s health benefit card program available to all enrolled Osages.

A Congressional resolution, ONCR 12-05, will be considered to raise the maximum amount for Osages who are age 65 and older to $1,000 in the 2012 calendar year. The maximum amount for those under 65 will remain at $500.

The Congress issued a legislative proclamation for the special session on Dec. 19. The Congress has the authority to call itself into special session via legislative proclamation with written support from two-thirds of the Congress.

Discussion on the health benefit card issue has been a sticking point since the Tzi-Zho Session ended in early October because the Congress needs financial information from the Treasurer’s office in order to consider setting the resolution with the higher maximum payable amount for Osages over 65.

The Congress had yet to receive the financial documentation from Treasurer William Kemble, which drew concerns from several Congress members because 2011 was coming to a close.

According to ONCA 08-46 (the bill creating the health benefit card program), the Treasurer is required to set the maximum payable amount under the plan on or before Oct. 1 of each fiscal year for the following calendar year’s health card program expenditures.

The financial documents were located during the 12th Special Session. Kemble had turned in the documents dated Nov. 3, but Congressional staff located them during the Dec. 7 session.     

Congresswoman Shannon Edwards, who sponsored the health benefit card program legislation, said upon reviewing the documents that there is enough funding at this time for the registered health benefit card users. So no supplement appropriation bill was created during the special session.

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