indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Colorado tribe wins contract support cost dispute
Friday, June 22, 2007
Filed Under: Health | Law

Even after the U.S. Supreme Court told the Indian Health Service to live up to its promises, the agency has continued to tell tribes there isn't enough money to pay them.

But that policy is unlawful, the Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado argued. Its proposal to take control of an IHS clinic on the reservation was rejected by the agency, whose officials claimed they didn't have enough money to fulfill the agreement.

Last week, Judge William P. Johnson stepped in to resolve the dispute. He said IHS can't deny self-determination contracts based on inadequate appropriations in a 20-page ruling that was hailed by the tribe as a victory for Indian Country.

"Now we can move forward and focus on the best healthcare for our members and the local community," Southern Ute Chairman Clement J. Frost said yesterday.

Frost said the decision will help other tribes who want to take over IHS hospitals and clinics but have been told there isn't enough money to do so. Judge Johnson made it clear that IHS "can no longer stand in the way of tribal self-determination," the chairman said.

The dispute stems from the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975. The landmark law authorizes tribes to assume programs -- ranging from health care to social services -- that were previously managed by federal agencies.

The self-determination policy has been a success, with hundreds of tribes entering into contracts and compacts to take control of their destinies. But IHS has never completely fulfilled its promise to pay for the costs of the programs along with additional contract support costs.

In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that the failure to pay was unlawful. "The government does not deny that it promised to pay the relevant contract support costs. Nor does it deny that it failed to pay," Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote in the 8-0 decision.

"Its sole defense consists of the argument that it is legally bound by its promises if, and only if, Congress appropriated sufficient funds, and that, in this instance, Congress failed to do so," he continued.

Relying on the decision, Judge Johnson said IHS was wrong to reject the Southern Ute Tribe's contract based on the availability of appropriations. The government's mandates under the self-determination law aren't affected by money, he concluded.

"The mere failure of Congress to appropriate funds, without further words modifying or repealing, expressly or by clear implication, the substantive law, does not in and of itself defeat a government obligation created by statute," Johnson wrote, quoting another precedent.

He also said the agency can't force the tribe to accept an agreement in which the tribe releases the IHS from paying contract support costs. Such a contract would have essentially relinquished the IHS from future lawsuits or damages claims.

At one point, the director for the Southwest area of the IHS emailed the tribe and said the contract "must include language that IHS will not pay CSC, does not promise to pay CSC, that the tribes cannot rely on any promise to pay, and tribes cannot report a failure to receive CSC as a shortfall," Johnson recounted in his June 15 ruling.

At the same time, Johnson noted that the IHS sits "between a rock and a hard place" because its discretion to reject contracts is limited by the self-determination law. But he said the agency has other options to meet its obligations, such as asking Congress for specific earmarks.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, IHS has asked for more contract support funds in its annual budget proposals. So has the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the other main agency for self-determination contracts and compacts. IHS also issued a new contract support policy in April [Indian Health Manual]

But tribes say both agencies are still failing to meet the need. A recent bill in Congress that failed to win enactment sought more than $600 million to address contract support cost shortfalls.

With victory in hand, lawyers for the Southern Ute Tribe hope to draft an order that requires IHS to approve a contract to take over the clinic. The next step in the case will assess damages, if any, to be awarded to the tribe.

Court Decision:
Southern Ute Tribe v. Leavitt (June 15, 2007)

Supreme Court Decision in Cherokee Nation v. Leavitt:
Syllabus | Opinion [Breyer] | Concurrence [Scalia]

Relevant Links:
Southern Ute Tribe - http://www.southern-ute.nsn.us
Indian Health Service - http://www.ihs.gov
Contract Support Cost Litigation - http://www.cscclass.net
Contract Support Costs, NCAI - http://www.ncai.org/Contract_Support.36.0.html

Related Stories:
Nevada tribe finally paid for health services contract (4/26)
Tribes continue fight for self-determination contracts (12/16)
BIA ordered to pay for self-determination contract (09/26)
Contracts still an issue despite Supreme Court win (8/14)
Tribal contracts pose conflict for U.S. Supreme Court (11/10)
Court to hear self-determination contract case (11/9)
Supreme Court takes action on Indian law cases (11/02)
Campbell says agencies afraid of helping tribes (04/30)
Tribes ask Congress to address contract shortfalls (04/28)
Supreme Court to resolve self-determination dispute (03/23)
Supreme Court weighs self-determination dispute (03/09)
Court rules tribe owed self-determination funds (07/07)
Appeals court turns down Navajo Nation again (04/09)
Court rebuffs tribes on contract funding dispute (11/27)
Navajo Nation challenges contract policy (10/04)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Cronkite News: Tribes seek return of property up for sale in France (5/25)
Native Sun News: Anti-suicide effort incorporates tribal traditions (5/25)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge youth showcase film projects (5/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Lakota people come together in times of need (5/25)
Editorial: Tribes must come up with plan for return of Black Hills (5/25)
John McCoy: Disenrollment and blood quantum are not our way (5/25)
Adrian Jawort: Addressing race relations and healing in Montana (5/25)
Fort Peck Tribes oppose new directive on transgender students (5/25)
Sen. Barrasso to chair platform committee for GOP convention (5/25)
Cowlitz Tribe welcomes discussions with opponent over casino (5/25)
Little Traverse Bay Bands open doors to Class II gaming facility (5/25)
Tuolumne Band celebrates 15th birthday with casino expansion (5/25)
Former Winnebago Tribe casino employee denies theft charge (5/25)
Proposed rule brings LGBT equality to tribal housing programs (5/24)
Chairman of Quapaw Tribe endorses Democrat Hillary Clinton (5/24)
Appropriations bill blocks new federal recognition regulation (5/24)
Native American Children's Safety Act clears final Hill hurdle (5/24)
9th Circuit won't rehear Tohono O'odham Nation gaming case (5/24)
Lakota Country Times: Army promises return of tribal children (5/24)
Native Sun News: New business sprouts up at Wounded Knee (5/24)
Mark Trahant: Tulalip citizen lands role in Democratic platform (5/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Pine Ridge unites for search of missing men (5/24)
Men who went missing found dead on Pine Ridge Reservation (5/24)
Billy Mills: Flawed poll can't justify use of team's racist mascot (5/24)
Richard King: Mascot poll reflects pervasive anti-Indian racism (5/24)
Marco Alvarez: Voices of indigenous people usually go unheard (5/24)
Indian Health Service facility cited for treatment of 6-month-old (5/24)
Tribes meet to discuss sale of ancestors and property in France (5/24)
Families of missing Native women in Canada still await justice (5/24)
Menominee Nation considers options after losing hemp lawsuit (5/24)
Dental group appears to relent on therapists in Indian Country (5/24)
Alaska Natives welcome removal of 'Eskimo' from federal laws (5/24)
Joba Chamberlain lands on disabled list after joining new team (5/24)
Coquille Tribe awaits environmental review for gaming project (5/24)
Seminole Tribe still going strong despite lack of new casino deal (5/24)
Long wait hints at tie in closely-watched tribal jurisdiction case (5/23)
Another Indian Health Service facility in Great Plains threatened (5/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules hearing on wildfires (5/23)
Supreme Court delays review of Seneca Nation land case again (5/23)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge school hosts meth awareness day (5/23)
Lakota Country Times: Native men still missing after two weeks (5/23)
Tim Giago: Some good old days really were the 'good old days' (5/23)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Jay Silverheels was more than 'Tonto' (5/23)
Delphine Red Shirt: It's our duty to teach the Lakota language (5/23)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: A vendetta in the death of Anna Mae (5/23)
Native Sun News: Rapid City group aims to address disparities (5/23)
Tara Houska: Mascots hurt Native youth despite results of poll (5/23)
Vincent Schilling: Mascot poll doesn't reflect true Indian voices (5/23)
Wenona Wolf: Native people are invisible in our own homeland (5/23)
Roger Birdbear: Obamacare can help address shortfalls at IHS (5/23)
Harold Monteau: Lessons from Canada in Native law and policy (5/23)
Steven Newcomb: Church edicts lead to centuries of domination (5/23)
Robert Jumper: Gaming leads Eastern Cherokees to bright future (5/23)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.