Seneca Nation seeking $7.5M from IHS in contract dispute

The Seneca Nation of New York is seeking $7.5 million from the Department of Health and Human Services in a self-determination contract dispute.

The tribe says the Indian Health Service, which is part of HHS, underfunded the contract by miscounting the number of eligible patients. During fiscal year 2011 and 2012, the lawsuit claims 2,034 patients were missed each year.

“The nation believes that federal accounting in this case is incorrect and the nation simply seeks reimbursement for the value of that under-count,” President Robert Odawi Porter said today. “We have a disagreement about numbers, which we have not yet been able to resolve in discussions with HHS, so we had to file suit to protect our claim.”

The lawsuit shows that the IHS agreed to provide only $1,855.65 per patient under the contract. That's lower than the amount that the agency spent on patients in fiscal year 2003, according to a landmark report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

The report pointed out that the federal government spends more on health care for prisoners than for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The lawsuit, Seneca Nation v. HHS, was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., on September 10.

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