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Health | Law
Federal Circuit rules in contract support case


The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling today in a contract support cost case.

The Arctic Slope Native Association of Alaska, the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians of Oregon and the Metlakatla Indian Community of Alaska entered into self-determination contracts with the Indian Health Service. They went to the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals when the IHS refused to pay contract support costs.

The CBCA dismissed all three cases because it said they weren't presented within the six-year statute of limitations. The plaintiffs appealed to the Federal Circuit, citing ongoing contract support cost litigation, including one that went to the U.S. Supreme Court

The plaintiffs pointed out that the Supreme Court delayed all pending contract support cost litigation while it considered the case. They said the six-year statute of limitations should not apply as a result of the stay.

The Federal Circuit agreed in part and disagreed in part. The court said the CBCA needs to take a second look at the cases to determine whether the statute of limitations affected the plaintiffs' rights.

Although the Supreme Court, in Cherokee Nation v. Leavitt, ruled that the IHS must live up to its contract obligations, the decision has not resulted in tribes receiving all of the money they are due under self-determination contracts.

Federal Circuit Decision:
Arctic Slope Native Association, Ltd. v. Secretary of Health and Human Services (September 29, 2009)

Oral Arguments:
Arctic Slope Native Assoc v HHS (July 6, 2009)

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Southern Ute Tribe set to take over IHS clinic (9/25)