2014 TZI-ZHO SESSION DAY 14: The Fourth Osage Nation Congress wrapped an early Sept. 17 session before the Osage Minerals Council’s meeting and passed reductions to the 2015 fiscal year boards/ commissions budget and the health benefit fund appropriation.
The $1.1 million boards/ commissions budget (ONCA 14-67) received reductions to travel and conference budget line items for some boards. The Congress also voted 6-4 to keep the professional fees for the Health Authority Board at $166,400, which was proposed for a reduction.
Congressman Ron Shaw said the Health Authority Board plans to use the funding for consultants to help guide/ advise them with negotiation efforts to compact the Pawhuska Indian Health Service clinic.
The Congress also voted 8-2 to reduce the health benefit fund appropriation (ONCA 14-78) to $6.4 million as proposed by Shaw. The appropriation will be used to replenish the health benefit fund, which pays the health benefit card program available to all Osages.
Shaw said he believed the fund was overestimated and said the Congress could revisit the issue in spring 2015 if more money is needed. Congresswoman Shannon Edwards, who voted against the reduction, said she preferred to receive confirmation that the $6.4 million figure is enough to fully support the program.
ON Treasurer Callie Catcher, responding to an open records request, provided the totals for the Health Benefit Card by Fiscal Year:
FY 2009: Bill was passed into law, sponsored by Edwards. $0 spent.
FY 2010: $2,106,288.29
FY 2011: $3,532,307.35
FY 2012: $4,231,016.73
FY 2013: $4,687,695.45
Year-to-Date FY2014: $4,429,427.73
Day 15 of the Tzi-Zho Session starts at 10 a.m. Friday Sept. 18.