Osages 65 years and older will now receive $1,000 a year as a part of the Nation’s Health Benefit Card Program.
A bill, sponsored by Congresswoman Shannon Edwards, raising the amount was passed by the Second Osage Nation Congress April 8 and signed into law by Principal Chief John Red Eagle April 13 to be effective immediately.
The Congress received an accounting of the health benefit plan for the 2010 calendar year which showed sufficient funds to cover the raise for those Osages 65 years and older in the 2011 calendar year.
To qualify for the $1,000 benefit, Osages must turn 65 on Jan. 1 of the year the benefits will be received.
The First Osage Nation Congress passed the $5.1 million health benefit plan that provides Osages everywhere with a $500 medical debit card in the 2008 Tzi-Zho session.
Osages that apply receive a coded debit card that allows payment for all items that the Internal Revenue Service considers tax-deductible medical expenses. The debit card covers most medical expenses except for abortions, which the First Osage Nation Congress declined to fund.
Some of the items on the IRS-approved list includes eyeglasses, dentures, braces, wheelchairs, alcoholism treatment, insulin treatment, surgery (except cosmetic procedures), hearing aids, medical transportation expenses, prescription costs, vaccines, X-rays, home repair if medically needed and other items. Reimbursement for some over-the-counter drug costs will also be available.
Osages must spend the entire $500 by the end of the calendar year—there is no carryover of unspent funds to the next year. However, Osages can reapply for subsequent years as long as funding is available.
To enroll in the health benefit plan visit the Osage Nation Web site at www.osagetribe.com and click on Health Benefit Card Information and form. The site has the enrollment form available as well as the re-enrollment form and answers to frequently asked questions.
For all other questions regarding the health benefit card program, contact the Osage Nation Constituent Services at (918) 287-5662.