Front row L to R: Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center Director James Floyd. Second Row L to R: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma Victim Witness Coordinator Gayla Stewart, Cherokee Veterans Center Director Dr. Ricky Robinson, Cherokee Nation Self Governance Administrator Vickie Hanvey, Jacque Secondine Hensley Native American liaison for the Office of Gov. Mary Fallin, Connie Davis executive director of Cherokee Nation Health Services, Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory-Jordan, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center Indian Health Liaisons John Alley and Bunner Gray
TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA —Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed an important reimbursement agreement Friday with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The contract allows the tribe to now be reimbursed by the VA for services rendered to Native American veterans using Cherokee Nation health centers for primary care. It also allows the Cherokee Nation and VA to share patient information and charts as needed.
The agreement gives Native veterans more flexibility in choosing where they wish to receive health care, allows tribal health employees to enroll veterans for military benefits and bring in more funding for the tribe to continue to improve and expand its tribal health services.
“The Cherokee Nation is proud to partner with the Veterans Administration so that our military veterans have more options to meet their health care needs. It’s something we owe these men and women who have given so much to our country,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Native people serve our armed forces at the highest rates, and we have a responsibility to provide timely and quality care. It’s a moral imperative.”
Chief Baker and James Floyd, director of the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee, signed the agreement at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center next to the tribal complex in Tahlequah.
“We are excited to partner with Cherokee Nation in providing health care to our American Indian Veterans,” Floyd said. “This agreement will allow for better coordination of care, allows tribes and IHS to expand care for their users, shortens wait times for medical care, and increases access at VA facilities for all veterans.”
The Cherokee Nation, which operates a hospital and employee health center in Tahlequah and eight health facilities within 14 counties in Oklahoma, has at least 4,000 Cherokee veterans. Citizens of other federally recognized tribes will also be covered under the contract and receive the same level of care.
The Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center now has agreements in place with six other tribal hospitals and 40 tribal health facilities in Oklahoma to better serve American Indian Veterans.