Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton/Mvskoke Media Correspondent
Nation claims feds owe over $94 million in damages, costs
TULSA, Oklahoma — In an effort to recover past contract health support costs, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation is suing the federal government.
According to a complaint filed May 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, Indian Health Services and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services owe the tribe $94,170,073 in damages and contract support costs accrued between 2006 and 2014, plus interest.
Read court documents.
‘IHS’s CSC (contract support cost) underpayments from FY 2006 through 2014 compelled the nation to divert program funds to cover the fixed administrative and overhead expenses, and direct support costs, that IHS failed to pay,’ MCN Attorney General Kevin Dellinger wrote. ‘This directly reduced the amounts the nation had available to provide health care services, causing the nation a direct loss in third-party revenues that would have been generated from those services.’
The U.S. Supreme Court held in 2012 that under the terms of the Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act, the federal government is obligated to fully pay the support costs needed to carry out the terms of a self-governance compact, such as employees’ insurance, just as it would for any other contract.
Previously, the U.S. Department of Interior and other federal agencies had maintained there was a fixed amount of reimbursement funds available that may or may not cover all the support costs incurred by compacted tribes.
Since that ruling, the federal government has paid out more than $700 million in overdue contract support costs and has settled claims with more than two dozen tribes nationwide, including the Cherokee Nation.
MCN has had a self-governance agreement with IHS since 2003.
As per the lawsuit, the Nation is pursuing one count of breach of contract and one count of breach of statutory right under the Prompt Payment Act, the Contract Disputes Act and the Equal Access to Justice Act.
As of May 10, a hearing has not been scheduled nor has the federal government filed a response to the Nation’s complaint.1 comment