TAHLEQUAH DAILY PRESS —
Miller pointed out the tribe’s experience in the health care industry.
“Also, the Cherokee Nation has a highly accredited health care system that is recognized nationwide as a top example of tribal medical care,” he said. “Any transition of services to the Cherokee Nation would be done with the idea of serving patients better, and Cherokee Nation has a track record of being able to do it.”
During the Cherokee Nation health committee meeting, District 8 Councilor and committee Chairman Dr. Bradley Cobb stressed the importance of properly addressing the tribe’s intentions, and that the council will be responsible for making any final decision.
“A feasibility study will be made and presented to the tribal council,” said Cobb. “The purpose of the study is to uncover questions to be addressed by the council.”
Melissa Gower, CN Health Services group leader, outlined the process for the tribe’s study.
“Over the next 90 to 120 days, all the pros and cons of taking over some or all of the operations at Hastings will be thoroughly reviewed,” said Gower. “We will render our decision on the study by June 1. With IHS, you have to allow 90 days for negotiation before entering into a compact or an agreement.”
Gower indicated her group is outlining a plan, and is looking at developing teams with members of both the Cherokee Nation and IHS.
“We look forward to the process and planning stages,” said Gower. “Please let us know if you [councilors] have concerns or input.”
HIMC CEO Ed McLemore also fielded questions from councilors, saying third-party payments had increased 41 percent in 2003-2004, from $22.8 million to $30.8 million.
“Patient encounters have increased as well,” said McLemore. “We serve approximately 244,000 annually, and are feeling pressured for more space and services.”