Health

ON officials revisit compacting Pawhuska IHS

Efforts to explore compacting the Pawhuska Indian Health Services clinic is revived with the newer elected Osage Nation officials taking office and now meeting for their first-ever Tzi-Zho Congressional Session.

Dr. Ron Shaw is the current chairman of the Congressional health and social services committee and former IHS administrator James Norris is the vice chairman. For the first committee meeting held Aug. 1 under the Fourth ON Congress, Shaw invited other government officials to restart the dialogue of compacting the IHS clinic.

Compacting the clinic would allow the Osage Nation to have more say in decisions regarding the facility’s finances and patient services. Under the federal Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, tribes have the option of contracting or signing self-governance compacts to have more control over providing health care to their people.

Shaw acknowledged there are other compacting service opportunities with the federal government, but clarified he is only interested in discussing compacts for the clinic only. If the clinic is compacted, Shaw said the Nation will be in a position where “we operate the funding, we decide where our program priorities are, we do third-party billing,” he said.

Shaw said efforts were already made to study the compacting idea when he served on the now-defunct ON Health and Wellness Advisory Board and recalled the board hired consultant Bill Thorne to conduct the study and concluded there was no reason the Pawhuska clinic shouldn’t be compacted.

Another requirement for an IHS facility to be compacted is the tribe needs to have three years of clean audits with no material findings, Shaw said. He added the entity is allowed to continue pursuing the compacting efforts if a letter from an auditor states the finding(s) are cleared.

Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn, who attended the meeting, said Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear is a supporter of self-governance efforts other tribes have taken advantage of.

ON Health Authority Board chairwoman Margie Burkhart said the board is supportive of IHS compacting efforts and added: “it’s nice to know the Chief and Assistant Chief will be supportive.”

The Osage Congress will also consider a resolution filed by Shaw “to formally request participation in the Indian Health Service Tribal Self-Governance Program under 42 C.F.R. § 137.18, and to support the negotiation and execution of a compact between the Osage Nation and the United States government pursuant to Public Law PL 93-638.”

The Tzi-Zho Session runs through Sept. 29. Check back to www.osagenews.org for updates on discussions regarding IHS compacting, as well as the newspaper’s Facebook and Twitter pages.