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D.C. Circuit Court rules Indian Health Services wrongfully withheld funds from Tribe

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court ruled Friday, July 23, 2021, that Indian Health Services wrongly withheld medical care funding for a federally-recognized Tribe located along the Nevada-Oregon border.

According to court documents, IHS intended in 2016 to shutter the emergency health services and health clinic that served two Tribes in the area.

That prompted the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes to take over operations. Law 360 reported that IHS slashed its annual support of the program by 92 percent. The opinion said IHS withheld money because the other Tribe – the Winnemucca Indian Colony of Nevada – had not consented to hand over its “tribal share” of the funding.

The decision rules that the Fort McDermitt tribe is entitled to the same amount of funding that Indian Health Services deemed necessary to run the program itself – and IHS owes the Tribe funding going back to 2016.

The case goes back to district court to decide how much of the remaining $550,000 was wrongfully withheld.