Federal health care programs across Alaska are receiving millions of dollars in settlement money.
The Indian Health Service has settled 22 claims with tribes, with payments nearing $200 million, money tribes say they needed to maintain the services they're contracted to do. One of those tribes has been asking the government to make good on its contracts for nearly two decades.
The South Central Foundation operates under a federal contract it's obligated to provide, but the foundation says it's been underpaid for support costs.
"We file claims pretty much every single year for the 17 years it's been in dispute," said Vice President of Medical Services at South Central Foundation Dr. Douglas Eby.
The Foundation is receiving $96,500,000, money it says represents contractual underpayments going back 17 years.
"South Central Foundation is one of the two or three largest claims in the United States that will be resolved as a result of this Supreme Court case and the payment of over 1 hundred million dollars represents an enormous amount of healthcare for Alaska Native People," said Lloyd Miller, the lead attorney representing tribal claims against the government.
The Indian Health Service says it's complying with a 2012 Supreme Court ruling.
"We've made a lot of progress on settlement discussions to date especially since having devoted more resources and staff to settlement discussions," said the Director of the Alaska Area Indian Health Service Chris Mandregan.
The South Central Foundation says it doesn't have a specific plan for the money, but it will help.
"It's great for us to have a positive result that allows us to do some things with some one time money that we wouldn't be able to do otherwise," Dr. Eby said.
The South Central Foundation says the feds are finally coming through on something it should have done years ago, but they're still underfunded. The Indian Health Service says it will continue to deal with claim settlement discussions one contractor at a time.