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At Alaska Tribal Health Meeting, Begich Reports Alaska Tribal Contract Settlements Reach $449 Million

Will Continue to Work With Alaska Tribes to Make Sure They Are Paid What They Are Owed

U.S. Senator Mark Begich spoke today to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and reported key progress that Alaska tribes have received more than $449 million in settlements and interest from the federal government over contract support costs. This comes after years of pressure from Begich, the Delegation and Alaska tribes to make sure tribes are paid what they are owed. 

“The federal government has broken too many promises with tribes and though we have more work to do, I am pleased that we are seeing good progress with Alaska tribes receiving the money they are owed,” said Begich. “Failure to pay the full costs is unacceptable and I will continue to use my position on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to keep up the pressure on the federal government.”

The settlements reflect the total payments made to Alaska tribes for delivery of health care to Alaska Natives and progress that after years of non-payment from the federal government.

For a detailed breakdown of settlement amounts please e-mail josh_stewart@senate.begich.gov

Background on Begich’s Work for Resolution on Contract Service Costs:

This is an issue Begich has championed since his first days in the Senate as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. 

In June of 2013, unsatisfied with progress from the Indian Health Service and demanding a resolution on these settlements, Begich put an informal a “hold” on Indian Health Service Director Yvette Roubideaux at her re-nomination hearing before Senate Indian Affairs Committee.  

Sen. Begich forces the issue of contract costs with IHS Acting Director Roubideaux
during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing in April 2013. 

Begich pushed to make sure the 2015 Senate Interior Appropriations Bill includes $800 million to pay Alaska Native and American Indian contract support.  The bill includes $617 million for Indian Health Services (IHS) contract support costs and $246 million for Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) contract support costs. 

These funds will be used to pay tribes for self-governance contracts and compacts under the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act, a bill sponsored by Begich.  The bill also includes $85 million for IHS staffing and operating costs for healthcare facilities, which will support staffing costs for IHS facilities in Alaska.

Begich represents 229 federally recognized tribes and has been one of the most outspoken and diligent leaders in Congress on tribal heath issues, including his work on contract support costs. His work in the Senate includes playing an instrumental role in securing full contract support cost (CSC) funding in 2014 and he has been pressuring Congress to fully fund CSC in 2015. Begich’s recent work to secure contract support cost funding has been noted in articles in Indian Country Today Media and a recent op-ed Tribal Contracts Must Be Honored—Permanently.

Begich also recently published an op-ed in Indian Country Today detailing the federal government’s obligation to honor their agreements with tribes.

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