What is contract health?

What is contract health?
An event was held April 26 at the Mound Building in Okmulgee, Oklahoma to help citizens better understand the role of contract health. (Shutterstock)

“We wanted to open the communication line between us and our patients.”—Contract Health Manager Melinda Yargee

Efforts to explain department undertaken

Kevin Barnett/Reporter

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma —A public forum was held April 26 at the Mound Building in Okmulgee, with the purpose of explaining the role and limitations of Muscogee (Creek) Nation Contract Health Services.

CHS, as it pertains to Muscogee (Creek) citizens, is a federally-funded program designed to assist with payments to medical facilities and physicians “outside” the tribal or Indian Health Service systems.

Representatives from partner organizations, IHS and tribal health care facilities were on hand to answer questions and dispel confusions often arising when citizens seek CHS assistance.

MCN Contract Health Manager Melinda Yargee said necessity for the event arose from the high volume of applications CHS receives, typically 250-400 weekly.

“We wanted to open the communication line between us and our patients,”Yargee said.

The outreach event offered citizens and health care facilitators the opportunity for unfettered access and dialogue.

“We wanted to give patients the opportunity to come and see what contract health is about and who we partner with,” she said.

Some issues addressed were the importance of third party resources such as Medicare and Medicaid, reasons for denials, priority structure and claim procedures and processes.

The topic of denials was a recurring discussion point throughout the forum.

According to Yargee, the top reasons for claim denials are the absence of an authorized referral by an IHS or tribal physician, (in emergency cases) the 72 hour window for call-in notification has passed or there are simply no funds available.

Among those in attendance was Creek Health Representative Nathaniel Hill, who found the information both relevant and valuable.

“Medical, financial billing and insurance, it just covered the whole gamut and will allow us to better advocate for those needing help in the communities,” he said.

Future educational outreach events are being considered for the different MCN communities.

For additional information or questions, contact CHS at: 918-758-2710.

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