Health | Law

Supreme Court orders new ruling for contract support cost case





The U.S. Supreme Court today ordered new proceedings in Arctic Slope Native Association v. Sebelius, another self-determination case.

In December 2010, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Indian Health Service was not required to pay all of the contract support costs in a self-determination agreement with the Arctic Slope Native Association. The organization manages the Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital in Alaska.

That decision was based on a spending cap in appropriations law. Just last week, however, the Supreme Court ruled that federal agencies must still find a way to fulfill the promises made to tribes and Alaska Natives.

"Consistent with longstanding principles of government contracting law, we hold that the government must pay each tribe’s contract support costs in full," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the majority in Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter.

As a result, the Supreme Court vacated the Federal Circuit ruling and ordered new proceedings in the case. The decision was announced in an order list today.

In the same order list, the Supreme Court declined a petition in Sebelius v. Southern Ute Tribe, yet another self-determination case. That means a September 2011 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that helps the Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado will stand.

Supreme Court Decision:
Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter (June 18, 2012)

Federal Circuit Decision:
Arctic Slope Native Association (December 15, 2010)

10th Circuit Decision:
Southern Ute Tribe v. Sebelius (September 19, 2011)

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