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TGB Passes Resolution to Seek Indian Health Service Joint Venture Funding for New Health Center

By Joe Morey News Editor

The LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) passed a resolution at their weekly meeting on Sept. 9 to seek Indian Health Service (IHS) Joint Venture Funding to have a new health and wellness center’s operations funded for 20 years. The resolution followed a meeting between LCO tribal officials from the TGB and the health center with officials from the IHS Bemidji Area office on Wednesday, August 28, regarding the tribe’s application for the funding.

In attendance from IHS were Environmental Health officer Todd Scofield and Bemidji Area Commander and Facility Engineer consultant Brian Willoughby. Representing the tribe were LCO Tribal Chairman Louis Taylor, Vice Chair Lorraine Gouge and Tribal Governing Board (TGB) member Tweed Shuman, along with LCO Health Center Director Sarah Cormell and Finance Director Phyllis Wolf and Don Smith, LCO Health Center Maintenance Director.

IHS officials shared a slide show with LCO about the joint venture program, which provides for federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes to construct a Tribally-owned health care facility using non-IHS funds that meets IHS design criteria and approval.

“In exchange, IHS will enter into a 20 year nominal lease for the facility and request annual appropriations for the operation and maintenance of the facility during the lease period. Additional priority is to be given to Tribes who agree to fund the initial equipment portion of the project,” the presentation explained.

The slide show presentation went on to show conditions of the tribe’s participation in the Joint Venture Program. The tribe must show the administrative and financial capabilities required to complete the facility in a timely manner; must expend Tribal, private, or other available non-IHS funds to complete the facility; lease the Tribally-owned health care facility to the IHS for 20 years under a no-cost Government lease.

“In return, during the 20-year lease period, the IHS will include in the annual appropriation request funding for supplies, staffing, operation and maintenance of the health care facility; provide the initial equipment for the facility if agreed to in the application process; request initial appropriations from Congress for an aggregate total, over one-or-more years, of 85 percent of the projected total staffing need, minus the existing staff, as determined using IHS Resource Requirements Methodology Needs Assessment (RRMNA) Criteria and the IHS approved User Population data.”

Regarding the Joint Venture Program, Shuman stated if LCO is funded, it will cover 20 years of operational expenses and the health center would continue to receive its annual IHS funding and 3rd Party Billing revenue.

“The amount of funding will be based on the total amount of full-time equivalent staffing,” Shuman said. “It’s basically supplemental income over a 20-year contract guarantee. We provide the land, construction, and we own the building. They lease the space for staffing and agree to provide equipment and supplies.”

Shuman indicated the tribe has a deadline for October 11 to finish the pre-application process which will be used to determine if the proposed project is eligible and is competitive for selection.

Willoughby stated those tribes with the top ranking projects will be requested to submit Final Applications after the pre-application process. The top ranking tribes will be notified on November 15 if they have been approved.

Our current user population is 2,656 (2018) but is projected to be 3,662 in 2030. The current clinic size is 29,840 square feet but the new clinic size would be 58,000 square feet with staffing of 137. The estimated cost of construction and equipment is $23 million. The IHS staffing package would be approximately $9 million per year over 20 years for a total of $180 million.

Previous stories on the Joint Venture funding:


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