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Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium will Receive $153 Million from Indian Health Services

The Indian Health Service will be paying the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium $153 million in back payments going back to 1999.

ANTHC is the largest tribal health contractor in the US.  The organization provides services to 143,000 Alaska Natives and American Indians.  The $153 million consists of the $115.5 million ANTHC is owed, plus $37.5 million in interest.  These costs include contract support costs, insurance, audits and other administrative requirements.

US Senator Mark Begich says this agreement is a first step.  He says there are three components that will lead to a fully funded and an ideal solution.   

“First is we had to make sure that the appropriation levels are taken care of every years so we make sure there isn’t this back log of money owed. The second thing is all this backlog, all this 20 years of backlog, owed money when the federal government short changed many of our tribal organizations that delivered health care. The last piece is each year it’s required that the federal government, if they short change any tribe, they must certified it with a documentation that goes to Congress. The problem is even if they certified what is owed, they are not obligated to adhere to that amount in the future when they finally pay it. If you owe it, you need to pay it.”

As of May there have been 729 claims being analyzed nationwide, with 181 additional claims already settled in agreements.  Begich says he has been pushing for the negotiations to settle in favor of the tribal organizations.

“One of the actions I took was one of the director of Indian Health Services was up for confirmation in the Indian Affairs Committee, which I’m a member. And I held her, and I continue to hold her, from moving forward in her appointment and my opinion was they were not moving forward on these negotiations. At the rate they were planning it would be 100 years before the settlements occurred. So what I did was tell the administrator was you are not going to be confirmed until you resolve this issue. The Obama administration did not like my position on this but view was they haven’t performed, they haven’t gotten the settlements.”

Begich says even though Alaska has seen over a quarter of a billion dollars being settled to tribes, he will hold the Indian Health Service to paying back what it owed.