Smoke signals. (Grand Ronde, Or.) 19??-current, January 15, 2011, Page 3, Image 3

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    Smoke Signals 3
JANUARY 15, 2011
Membership briefed on new Web site, health survey
By Dean Rhodes
Smoke Signali editor
Tribal members were briefed on
a new Tribal Web site design set
to debut Jan. 31 and were asked to
fill out a health survey at the Jan.
9 General Council meeting held in
the Tribal Community Center in
Grand Ronde.
Tribal member and Tribal Web
Designer Willie Mercier discussed
.the new Web site design, which will
eliminate the need for Tribal mem
bers to sign on to view a "Tribal
members only" side.
The new Tribal Web site will
be completely public, which will
require less technical support and
encourage a more transparent
Tribal government, he said.
The new Tribal Web site, Mercier
said, will place more Tribal news on
the front page, offer Tribal Council
. members a place to write individual
blogs, revamp the Tribal calendar
and make it more prominent, and
archive news stories and Tribal
Council agendas.
The new Web site also will allow
Smoke Signals to post more photos
using a Flicker account.
"We tried to keep the design simi
lar, but get more information to the
membership," Mercier said.
Mercier said the changes have
already started with Tribal videos
now available for all to see.
Tribal member Andy Jenness
asked if there are any plans to pod
cast Tribal Council Legislative Ac
tion Committee meetings. Mercier
said it has not been discussed, but it
would relatively easy to accomplish
if a decision was made to do it.
Tribal Council Secretary Kath
leen Tom asked if there is some way
for Tribal members to remotely par
ticipate in Tribal Council meetings
by using Internet video services,
such as Skype.
Tribal member and Tribal Audio
Visual Network Technician Wendell
Olson said there are systems that
could allow individual Tribal mem
bers to log in to a video conference,
but then the Tribe would have to
have a dedicated employee to mod
erate those Tribal members and
their participation in Tribal Council
Olson added there are other
expensive systems that would al
low Tribal members to watch and
participate in Tribal Council meet
ings by going to the Portland and
Eugene satellite offices.
But, he added, the
Tribe's Information
Systems Department
is currently trying
simple and inexpen
sive tactics to dissemi
nate information to
the Tribal member
ship and will inves
tigate other systems
if demand outgrows
those solutions.
After Mercier, Tribal
Health Services Ex
ecutive Director Mark
Johnston explained
the need for all Tribal
members to complete
the Alternate Resource
Survey, which is de
signed to save Tribal
dollars currently being
spent on health care.
Johnston said ap
proximately 1,000
of the 3,700 eligible
Tribal members have
completed the survey.
To encourage the other
Tribal members to fill
out the survey, health
care claims will be held
beginning March 1 un
til an individual Tribal
member has completed
the survey.
Johnston said that the cost of
the Tribal member health care
plan, which consumes more than
$20 million of the annual Tribal
budget, could be reduced if Tribal
members with access to other
health care, such as Medicare
or a spouse's employer's health
plan, used the other plan as the
primary payer and the Tribal
member health plan (Skookum)
was secondary.
"It's important to get members on
other plans if available," Johnston
said. "We can save the Tribe mil
lions this way."
In response to a question from
Tribal member Virginia Roof, John
ston said Tribal members who have
responded to the survey so far have
expressed fear that they will lose
their Skookum benefits. He added
that will not occur; the plan is to
have other insurance plans, if avail
able, pay first and then Skookum
will pay second.
Tribal member Bryan Mercier
encouraged all Tribal members to
fill out the survey, using his own
experience as an example. Because
K - - -
Photo by Michelle Alaimo
Tribal Web Designer and Tribal member Willie
Mercier gives a presentation on the new Tribal Web
site design during the General Council meeting at
the Tribal Community Canter on Sunday, Jan. 9. The
new site is scheduled to launch on Monday, Jan. 31.
of a bad back, he has regular chi
ropractic visits and his Bonneville
Power Administration insurance
pays first and then Skookum picks
up the rest, saving the Tribe thou
sands of dollars annually.
"Please fill out the survey," Mer
cier said. "It is in our common inter
est to do it."
Roof added that she was not
happy about having to fill out the
survey since Tribal members have
already pre-paid for their health
care with the land ceded to the fed
eral government in the 1850s.
Johnston agreed, but said the
$1.6 million the federal govern
ment provides to the Tribe annually
through Contract Health Services is
woefully insufficient to meet Grand
Ronde's need. The Tribe adds an
other $20 million annually.
"It's not fair," Johnston said, "but
is it where we are at. I am trying to
come up with a plan that will not
adversely affect you."
Tribal Chairwoman Cheryle A.
Kennedy and Tom also encouraged
Tribal members to fill out the sur
vey in an attempt to save gaming
dollars that could be used for other
purposes, such as per capita, educa
tion and economic development.
Johnston said Tribal members
can fill out the survey by visiting
the Tribal Web site or by calling
Tribal Health Care Specialists
Barbara Steere or Jim Holmes at
503-879-2487 or 503-879-2221. The
survey also appeared in several
Smoke Signals recently.
In other action, Tribal Chinuk
wawa teacher Kathy Cole gave
a brief update on the language
program, adding that a Tribal dic
tionary will be published this year
or in 2012.
Tribal Elders Gladys Hobbs, Julie
Duncan and Duane Wheeler were
elected to the Elders' Committee.
Tribal members Kathy Cole, Ja
net Billey and Kathleen Tom won
the $50 door prizes and J. J. Klinger
won the $100 door prize. Tom do
nated her door prize to the Elders'
The next General Council meet
ing will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday,
Feb. 6, in the Tribal Community
Center in Grand Ronde. D
Canoe carvers requested
by Cultural Resources
The Cultural Resources Department would like to invite all who are
interested to join us in carving the first river canoe to be made in Grand
Ronde since the reservation was established. This canoe will be a great
achievement for our Tribe and cultural identity. Tribes like the Kalapuyas,
Umpquas and Rogue Rivers used this style of canoe. We want as many
people who are interested and able to have a hand in carving this canoe.
We are encouraging any help or support just by stopping by and witnessing
the process and asking questions. The canoe will be moved to the Mission
Mill Museum in April to be displayed in the Grand Ronde canoe exhibit.
We will be carving every other Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m. until 3
p.m. at the carving shed behind the recovery house.
Contact Brian Krehbiel for more information and scheduling at 503-879-4639.
URGENT: Skookum Alternate
Resource survey deadline
The Skookum Health Program is funded with Tribal dollars. The
annual cost for medical claims has increased dramatically over the
past 10 years, and in 2010 the Tribe spent more than $20 million to
operate the Skookum program. To help control costs, effective March
1, 2011, all members who have not completed the Skookum Alternate
Resource Survey will not have their claims paid until the survey is
completed. Shasta will be notifying members whose claims have
been pended via mail, with instructions for completing the survey
online or by telephone. Tribal staff will be contacting members who
have not completed the survey by telephone as well.
This information is essential if we are going to get the plan back
to its original intent of being the primary payer ONLY in cases
when other payers (Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance) are
not available.
Here is an example of how this will work and why it is so impor
tant: A Tribal member who has Skookum as a primary payer must
have a back surgery and, due to complications, remains in the hos
pital for 45 days. Average cost to the Tribe: $250,000.
This same Tribal member has the same surgery and complica
tions and remains in the hospital for 45 days. However, the member
has access to his spouse's employer's insurance, with a maximum out
of pocket of $5,000. Total cost to the Tribe: no more than $5,000.
OR MELODY BAKER AT (800) 775-0095. D