Chickasaw Nation Files Response to Counter Healthcare Providers’ Motions

The Chickasaw Nation filed a response to the notice of supplemental authority by CVS Caremark, LLC.,Aetna, Inc., OptumRx, Inc., United Healthcare Services, Inc., et al. in the Eastern District of Oklahoma on Monday in an ongoing suit over the defendants’ alleged failure to reimburse the Nation for healthcare payments. The plaintiffs alleged that this is a violation of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, and it deprives the Nation of critical healthcare funding. At issue in Monday’s filing is whether the Nation must arbitrate its claims before suing.

The underlying complaint explained that the Chickasaw Nation receives funding for their healthcare through the Indian Health Service, a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Under the 1975 Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA), the nations are entitled to self-determination of health care, which led to the Chickasaw Nation Department of Health.

Due to several federal laws, “Native Americans need not pay for health care services they receive from eligible providers. Members of any nation who visit the Nation’s ITU Pharmacies pay no co-pay or other fee for their prescription medications and medical devices.” To offset the cost, there is a “policy of reimbursement and cost recovery from responsible third parties who stand in an inferior (i.e., more immediate) priority of payment—like [the] Defendants.” However, the defendants “constructed business models to pad their pockets at the expense of the quality of patient care.” 

The defendants “blatantly ignore[d] these protections by denying the Nation’s claims for recovery of service costs under the Recovery Act,” which is supposedly a violation of federal laws. Furthermore, the healthcare companies provide “discount programs” which “prevent and/or hinder the flow of funding to the Nation’s healthcare system in direct contravention of federal policy.”

The plaintiffs filed this response in order to point out what they believe are inaccuracies in an Arizona district court ruling, featuring the same parties, which was brought as additional authority by the defendants.. According to the response, the Arizona court wrongly assumed that the parties entered into a “clear and binding arbitration agreement.” The Nation also said they never waived their sovereign immunity. The Chickasaw Nation hopes that the Oklahoma district court recognizes this, and will disregard the defendants’ notices, deny the defendants’ motion to stay, and grant the Nation’s cross-motion.

The Chickasaw Nation is represented by Whitten Burrage and Nix Patterson, LLP.The defendants are represented by Steidley & Neal, P.L.L.C.