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ANTHC Responds to Misleading Alaska Dispatch News Story

September 09, 2017

The Alaska Dispatch News (ADN) recently published a misleading story regarding Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s (ANTHC) compensation of its Directors and members of its executive team. To ensure the public has a complete and accurate view of the facts, we wanted to take this opportunity to clarify several key points:

SCF’s lawsuit is about exerting power and control over the other Tribal organizations that have built this health care system. The recent lawsuit by SCF contains a number of claims against the ANTHC that are misleading and without merit. But SCF’s lawsuit has nothing to do with compensation, or position descriptions. This lawsuit is about one Tribal health organization asserting that their Board votes count for more than any other Tribal health organization in Alaska. This lawsuit is an attack on the strength and stability of the Alaska Tribal Health System.

ANTHC made a one-time adjustment in 2015 to correct prior underpayments to all past and current Directors from all Tribal regions in Alaska.  This correction was made because our Directors, both past and present, had been underpaid for their service to our organization – in some cases, for upwards of 15 years – due to the Indian Health Service’s (IHS) systematic failure to honor its contractual agreements to pay agreed-upon administrative costs to support our organization. As a result, ANTHC was forced to pay our Directors out of limited administrative funds, at a far lower rate than what they should have earned. We took IHS to court to enforce its financial obligations to ANTHC, and reached a $153 million settlement with IHS to resolve more than a decade of underpayments for necessary administrative costs, including the cost of governance.

ANTHC used a portion of the IHS settlement to correct prior underpayments to Directors who selflessly devoted their time and energy to ANTHC – because it was the right thing to do. For years, individual Directors served our people and made significant personal and professional sacrifices to ensure our success. Due to IHS’ failure to uphold its financial obligations, the Board set fees at a sizably reduced level to support our organization. And so, it was only fair for us to provide an adjustment when ANTHC’s dispute with IHS had resolved. It’s worth noting, that ANTHC also corrected other underpayments to Tribal organizations that accrued during the litigation.

ANTHC increased compensation to ensure executive and professional pay is now comparable and competitive. Following the settlement, the federal government began paying the full amount due to ANTHC for administrative cost for managing federal programs.  This, together with additional revenue ANTHC generated, enabled ANTHC to pay market-based rates for our health care professionals and executive staff. Prior to December 2014, ANTHC did not pay market rates for all executives and professionals, which made it difficult to retain and recruit staff. We believe Alaska Native professionals and staff should be paid the market rate for their services, which is why these compensation adjustments were made.

ANTHC’s leadership has helped guide the organization through a period of unprecedented growth. We have significantly expanded health services and access at the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) and throughout the Tribal health system. Access to specialized medical services at the Alaska Native Medical Center has increased by 44% over the past five years. We have opened a 202 bed patient housing facility, and structured the first Ronald McDonald House Tribal partnership. We started a day surgery center, a new cancer infusion center, and run successful statewide injury and health wellness programs. And we developed innovative solutions to rural health care with our community health, behavioral health and dental health aide training programs, along with engineering services for rural water and sanitation and telemedicine technology linking village clinics with specialists at ANMC. The experienced leadership of our Board of Directors, representative of all Tribal health regions, and our executive team helped make many of these accomplishments possible.

ANTHC is committed to being a responsible steward of our resources.  We are reinvesting revenue directly into expanding and improving access to health services for the benefit of the entire Tribal health system and our Tribal health partners. And we are seeking innovative and cost effective solutions for the delivery of service for the Tribal health system to improve the quality of our services for our patients. These efforts will help ensure the organization can continue to deliver the highest quality health care to our community for years to come.

Related: Statement by ANTHC Regarding Southcentral Foundation Litigation