Government , Health

More than 10,000 ARP Cash Assistance applications approved as of Aug. 31

As of Aug. 31, the Osage Nation is reporting more than 10,000 applications received for the Cash Assistance program are processed and approved with checks now being mailed.

Approved by the Seventh ON Congress on Aug. 2, the Executive Branch launched the Cash Assistance program – funded with American Rescue Plan Act money distributed to the Nation – with an online portal application, as well as downloadable paper applications available for Osage tribal members who experienced a negative economic impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enrolled Osage tribal members who complete the ARP Cash Assistance applications are eligible for up to $2,000. The first cash assistance check was issued on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, according to an Osage Nation press release.

On the final day of August, the Nation reported a total of 10,394 applications “have been audited and approved by third-party administrator RT Consulting LLC. RT Consulting LLC is a full-service benefits firm that has been administering the Osage Nation’s health benefit card for the past two years.”

However, not all tribal members are happy with how RT Consulting administers the health benefit card, and some have voiced their frustrations online. Others aren’t happy with the company’s 30-day timeline to administer the ARP cash assistance checks. They claim checks would have been mailed faster if the ON Accounting Department were in charge and it would have saved the Nation money to keep the administration of the program in-house. 

According to the Executive Branch, the ARP Cash Assistance program “remains on track with a 30-day check distribution timeline. Enrolled members of the Osage Nation who submitted an ARP Cash Assistance application should continue to expect a check mailed within 30-days of the date on their approval email.”

“This is remarkably fast work considering the funding was only approved this month,” Standing Bear said in the release. The Executive Branch also credited its pre-established relationship with RT Consulting to keeping with the timeframe.

“Our focus has been efficiency and accuracy,” said James Weigant, who is the Nation’s COVID-19 Task Force Coordinator. “Going through a hiring and training process (for another third-party administrator) would have significantly increased the distribution timeline. RT Consulting has a proven track record for timely service and have controls in place to prevent abuse of our programs.”

The Nation also issued status information from RT Consulting on the ARP Cash Assistance applications.

Vinnie Daboul, RT Consulting Managing Director, reported: “Of the 10,000-plus approved applications, one-third came in incomplete. A big part of our job is to audit each application to make sure the correct individuals receive their checks at the correct address.”

Daboul added that 274 applications have been denied thus far. Reasons for denial include submitted applications from Osage tribal members who are under age 18 and/or non-Osage tribal members submitting applications. Any Osage tribal member whose application has been denied has access to an appeals process.

Osage ARP Cash Assistance application submission procedures include:

-        Members can complete and submit an electronic application at: www.osagenation-nsn.gov/cash-assistance   

-        Members can download and print an application at: www.osagenation-nsn.gov/cash-assistance-information   

-        Or call (918) 287-5555 to request an application mailed to you. 

-        Or come into the Welcome Center at 239 W. 12th Pawhuska, OK, 74056 for help to apply online. Face coverings are required. 

Also, step-by-step application information and a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) sheet is available at www.osagenation-nsn.gov/cash-assistance-information