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Poison district meeting called to discuss health benefits A hastily called district meeting June 13 in Poison turned out to be louder and more lively than such meetings usually are. The meeting was requested by a number of Tribal members from Poison who said they were confused about how Medicare, Medicaid, the Indian Health Service, and the Tribal Health Depart ment were all related, according to Poison’s Council representative, Teresa Wall McDonald Flathead IHS director Rose Evans, THD director Doreen Vallee, and third- party resources specialist Margene Asay were invited by McDonald to ex plain the complex health-care system on the Flathead Early in the meeting, however, in spite of McDonald’s efforts to stick to the point the discussion strayed from the advertised topic to a different one: the Tribes’ intention to contract three ser vices from the IHS. Some people at the meeting, behind an anonymously authored list of 13 pointed questions, contended that the proposed was “really a political power play with the issue of Indian health care only secondary”. Doreen Vallee outlined the makeup of the admittedly expanding Tribal Health Department She said the pur pose of contracting the IHS medical- social worker, a secretary, the clinical psychologist and two community health nurses, was to provide a more comprehensive program under one department Money obtained under contracting has “less strings” attached to it too, she said, which increases efficiency. The CHRs, for example used to be little more than taxi drivers, she said. Today under THD, they’re trained to do a variety of health-related duties, such as blood pressure checks and immuni zations. Vallee’s husband, John, added that there was a principle behind Tribal contracting of federal functions. Indians should be governing themselves, he said. Congress made that philosophy a law when it signed the Indian Self- Determination and Education Assis tance Act in 1975, he said. The Tribes already contracts a number of IHS and BIA programs. Most of the audience didn’t agree that this particular contracting proposed was a good idea, principle or not Among the concerns expressed were the loss of services due to increased administrative costs; duplication of ser vices; contracted programs usually being the first axed by budget-cutters in Washington, D.C.; an alleged lack of expertise within the Tribal government to handle another program; a lack of up front citizen find Flathead Service Unit input; and the need for the July 1 deadline for deciding whether or not the proposal should proceed. Flathead IHS director Rose Evans said that as a federal employee, she supports the concept of Indian self-determi nation. She expressed concern, how ever, over the speed with which the proposal was being processed. She pointed out that the Reserva tion’s mental health program was a joint IHS-THD effort that was so successful that it had received national recognition. (Concludes on the next page) Big Sky Paint Manufacturers Complete Line of Paint INTERIOR Z EXTERIOR PAINTS FOR THE HOMEOWNER RONAN, MT 676-0700 CSKTs Char-Koosta News, Pablo, MT. Page 4 June 27,1985