GM 11-135

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Tribal Consultation Policy/Announcement on Tribal Purchase of Federal Employees Health Benefits

In a November 17, 2011, letter to tribal leaders, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) released its Tribal Consultation Policy (Policy). We attach the CMS letter and Policy.

The Policy lists the entities considered as consultation parties: Indian tribes represented by the Tribal President, Tribal Chair, or Tribal Governor, or an elected or appointed Tribal leader, or their authorized representatives(s). On the CMS side, consultation parties are: CMS Administrator, CMS Deputy Administrator, CMS Regional Administrators, or their designee.

The Policy addresses communications with entities that are not tribal governments: Tribal organizations organized pursuant to PL 93-638, Indian organizations, and Urban Indian organizations. With regard to tribal organizations that are carrying out programs under PL 93-638, CMS states that it may provide such organizations “an opportunity to fully participate in Tribal consultation under this policy.” The Policy states that communications with the above listed types of organizations does not substitute for tribal consultation. With regard to the Tribal Technical Advisory Group (TTAG), CMS notes that communications with the TTAG does not constitute consultation but that such communication “assists CMS to make consultation more effective including advising on the type of consultation needed on particular issues.”

CMS will host a conference call with tribes to discuss the Policy and respond to questions. The conference call will be held:

Friday, December 9, 1-3 p.m. EST
Call-in Number: 888-637-7740
Password: 538239

Federal Employees Health Benefits. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently held the first meeting of the Tribal/Federal Technical Work Group to discuss implementation of Section 409 of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which allows tribes and tribal organizations carrying out programs under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) and urban Indian organizations carrying out programs under Title V of the ISDEAA to purchase Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) and Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) for their employees. OPM announced that tribes will be able to begin purchasing FEHB coverage for their employees beginning May 1, 2012. OPM also announced that it has partnered with the National Finance Center to administer the program. Under the program, tribes will be able to purchase FEHB coverage for all “common law employees” which OPM has stated includes casino employees.

Please let us know if we may be of assistance regarding the CMS Tribal Consultation Policy or the Federal Employees Health Benefits program.