June 7, 2024

Tribes: Act Now to Take Advantage of Supreme Court's Decision on Contract Support Costs

Holland & Knight Alert
Philip Baker-Shenk | Steven D. Gordon | James T. Meggesto

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 6, 2024, that the Indian Health Service (IHS) must pay contract support costs with respect to program income – payments from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers – received by tribes that administer healthcare programs under a self-determination contract. Becerra v. San Carlos Apache Tribe, --- S.Ct. ---- 2024 WL 2853107 (June 6, 2024). For the past 30 years, tribes have sought such compensation, and IHS has refused to provide it. The Court's ruling is a notable victory for Indian Country.

All tribes who have a 638 contract (or a compact) with IHS to provide health services should move promptly to take advantage of this decision and secure the additional funds to which they are entitled. A number of tribes have been following this issue and have already preserved their claims regarding past years. But even tribes that have not previously done so can gain the benefit of this decision.

There is a six-year statute of limitations on claims for additional compensation under a self-determination agreement. IHS faces a large amount of financial liability as a result of this decision, and it will vigorously enforce this limitations period. Thus, it is essential that any tribe that has not already filed a claim for these contract support costs proceed to do so now, without delay.

If you have any questions about how to prepare and file such a claim or for other guidance and assistance, contact the authors or another member of Holland & Knight's Native American Law Team

Please note: The authors wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Choctaw Nation and other tribes and tribal organizations in the case in favor of the tribal position.

Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem, and it should not be substituted for legal advice, which relies on a specific factual analysis. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult the authors of this publication, your Holland & Knight representative or other competent legal counsel.

Related Insights