Tribes want hospital to also serve non-IndiansBISMARCK — Allowing non-American Indians to pay for the use of a new hospital planned for the Fort Berthold Reservation would help fund the facility and provide a service for northwest North Dakota residents, the chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes says.
By: By James MacPherson, The Associated Press , The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Allowing non-American Indians to pay for the use of a new hospital planned for the Fort Berthold Reservation would help fund the facility and provide a service for northwest North Dakota residents, the chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes says.
“The main goal is to be self-supporting,” said Marcus Levings, tribal chairman. “It’s in the community’s best interest to make it a business and it gives non-Natives the alternative of having to go to Minot or Bismarck.”
It’s the substance of a tribal lawsuit against the federal Indian Health Service filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The tribes say the IHS was wrong to deny a proposal to provide medical services to non-Indians.
The lawsuit also alleges the agency is withholding more than $1 million annually in so-called “contract support costs” that are needed to administer existing health care programs on the 1.2 million-acre reservation.
Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge John Bates denied the government’s request to dismiss the suit, which was filed in September.
Levings said many reservation health care facilities in the U.S. accept non-Indian patients. He said he has toured some where “there were more non-Natives in the waiting rooms than Native Americans.”
Dianne Dawson, a spokeswoman for Indian Health Service, said the agency could not comment on the lawsuit or its policies.
The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara make up the Three Affiliated Tribes. In late 2007, the tribes requested to manage all reservation programs administered by the Indian Health Service, under a federal law that grants self-governance to American Indians.