New Osage law restricts Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center revenue to health-related spending

With management of the Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center now transferred to the Osage Nation, the clinic operations spurred another revenue source for the Nation, but the money raised from clinic and patient services is restricted to health-related spending items, according to a new Osage law.

During the Tzi-Zho Session, the Fifth Osage Nation Congress voted unanimously to pass ONCA 16-102 (sponsored by Congressman Ron Shaw) that restricts the revenue “raised from the delivery of health services to expenditures.”

Under the Indian Health Service-compacted clinic management, Shaw said the health center collects its revenue from Medicare, Medicaid and other third-party billing sources including patient insurance coverage as a supplement to the IHS money received through a multi-year funding agreement. Shaw said he sponsored the bill as a way to answer the question of how the clinic revenue may be spent.

Shaw also noted federal law regarding IHS compacts specifies that revenue raised from third-party billing “must be used for health care-related services,” so the tribal law would mirror the federal law for future Osage government officials.

ONCA 16-102 passed with a 12-0 vote and Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear signed the bill into law on Sept. 28.