Fri Dec 22nd, 2017
The Southern Ute Drum
On Tuesday, Dec. 5, Southern Ute Tribal Council approved a definition of disability for providing tribal services to those that are determined to be disabled. A definition was first worked on in 2007 under Chairman Frost’s administration. “The policy started and ended under Chairman Clement J. Frost as the Chairman,” former Southern Ute Executive Officer, Ramona Eagle said. Initially, there was a meeting between the Director of Tribal Services and Clinic Director to create a support program for disabled tribal members. More recently, meeting attendees discussed adding a statement to the definition that would make the Tribe the payer of last resort.
Before Tribal Council adopted this definition, each department had their own definition, if any at all. Now all the departments will abide by the same one. The definition will apply mostly to the Southern Ute Health Center and will require tribal members to first apply for federal funding before the Southern Ute Health Center pays for the services provided. This requirement also applies to any other department services funded by other programs and requires tribal members to apply to have the other funding be used to supplement the tribally provided service.
This definition applies only to members who are disabled and want to access tribal benefits. To be eligible for tribal disability programs, a tribal member must meet the following criteria:
“The organization bridges the gap between departments and they will all follow this definition. They will implement this definition into their policies,” Vice Chairman Alex Cloud said. The Executive Officers completed the work to get a solid definition for all the departments. Departments, directors, and divisions involved included: Elders Services, Emergency Family Services, Vocational Rehab, Housing, Tribal Health, Construction Services, Executive Officers, and the Legal Department. In researching a tribal definition, the Tribe looked to other tribes that have established a definition, including: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Pequot Tribal Nation, Eastern Band Cherokee, and Little River Band of Ottawa. “Each department didn’t have a single definition, they were all under something different. Now everybody is under the same policy,” Southern Ute Executive Officer Andrew Frost said.
The definition also provides that to the extent allowed by applicable law or policy, a tribal program offering services to members is the payer of last resort. Funds for tribal services may not be used to pay for items or services where the tribal member is eligible for coverage by other federal, state, or another readily identifiable sources of funding. Southern Ute tribal members must apply or show proof of applying — and denial or acceptance for such Federal, State, or other applicable funding sources. If any tribal members have questions, they are welcome to contact their individual Department Directors, who will explain the definitions in detail.
The definition as adopted is quoted as follows:
“For purposes of benefits from service programs offered by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe to its members and, except for those programs that, due to federal guidelines or other applicable regulations, have existing standards for determining whether an individual is disabled, an individual will be considered eligible for programs available to individuals with disabilities if he or she meets the following criteria.
Disability determinations made by licensed physicians outside of the Tribal Health Department must be signed off by a licensed physician with the Tribal Health Department.
To the extent allowed by applicable law or policy, a tribal program offering services to members is the payer of last resort. So funds for tribal services may not be used to pay for items or services where the tribal member is eligible for coverage by other Federal, State, or another readily identifiable source of funding. Tribal members must apply or show proof of applying AND DENIAL OR ACCEPTANCE for such Federal, State, or other applicable funding sources.
Programs with existing standards due to federal regulations or other applicable guidelines shall utilize their existing standards to determine eligibility.”