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April 17, 2020

COVID-19 Response: Tribal Healthcare Systems Could Assist in the Fight Against COVID-19

By Rodrigo Macias, Gaming, Hospitality and Native Tribes Industry Leader

As experts predict the U.S. is nearing the peak of COVID-19 spread, even the most optimistic projections indicate the strain on the healthcare system could last months longer. As organizations throughout the country do everything they can to combat the pandemic, and the economic fallout it produced, the Tribal Healthcare System could provide much-needed relief for health care providers, and produce an additional revenue stream for Tribal Nations.

California and other states seeks healthcare support

On March 30th, California signed into effect EXECUTIVE ORDER N-39-20, allowing the California healthcare industry to increase the number of doctors, nurses, and facilities to treat the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the order, California’s anticipated surge of infections “requires a temporary adjustment of its staffing, health, and safety standards for health providers and health facilities.” California’s healthcare standards are among the most stringent in the nation. Due to these rigorous regulations, numerous professionals are unable to satisfy the licensing requirements. This in turn creates a domino effect that begins with failed applicants and ends with a shortage of workers.

Tribal healthcare systems could play a significant role in providing that needed support

Due to these statewide shortages, a possible temporary solution is available; Tribal Healthcare Systems. Many Tribal nations throughout the country have developed and utilized Tribal healthcare clinics, pharmacies, and first responder services for years to support not only their own communities but the communities surrounding them. Plus, there is potential to lease tribal facilities in case of an emergency. As we work together as a community, the utilization of tribal resources could be the additional outlet needed in the community to continue the fight against COVID-19.

Benefits from a tribal viewpoint

As social distancing continues and virtually all activities throughout the US are slowly coming to a halt, so are the profits for many businesses. However, EXECUTIVE ORDER N-39-20, may assist Tribal communities by realizing revenue by fulfilling the urgent need to bridge the healthcare gap in this moment of crisis by providing clinical, pharmaceutical or first responder services to surrounding communities in need and/or as determined appropriate.

Additionally, space to house sick patients, as well as examine new ones, is becoming scarce. Through this executive order the state has provided the Director of the Department of Developmental Services with the authority to enter into a lease, lease-purchase, or lease with option to purchase, any real or personal property, residences, facilities and necessary equipment, goods or services to serve individuals in need. These leases can be expedited per the order and can remain in effect as long as necessary to address the COVID-19 crisis.

Though not all clinic personnel may have all the necessary qualifications or required experience, this temporary order has enabled individuals who are legally capable and have the ability, to assist in these dire times. Additionally, these “temporary personal” would then return to their normal status at the conclusion of the executive order.

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While we’ve used California as an example, state legislations across the nation are doing what they can to supplement and support their strained healthcare systems. No community has not been touched by this crisis, and nobody can say with absolute certainty when the COVID-19 pandemic will end. As a result, businesses and communities will need to be creative with how they create new revenue streams. Uniting the interests of Tribal Nations and their surrounding communities in an effort to provide desperately needed healthcare capabilities could potentially benefit everyone.

Such deals will require careful negotiation of terms and usage rights, and tribal health facilities will need to manage regulatory compliance and make operational adjustments to mitigate risk. The MGO Advisory Practice has a comprehensive suite of offerings, from management consulting and governance, risk and compliance services, to transaction advisory and forensic accounting support, that can assist in navigating and optimizing these opportunities. To schedule a consultation, please reach out to us.

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COVID-19
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