ON: Cash assistance program is on track
The Osage Nation’s American Rescue Plan Cash Assistance program remains on track with a 30-day check distribution timeline, the tribe said in a news release Aug. 31.
Enrolled members of the Osage Nation who submitted an American Rescue Plan Cash Assistance application should continue to expect a check mailed within 30 days of the date on their approval email.
On Aug. 2, 2021, the Osage Nation Congress approved the request by Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear for cash assistance to members of the Osage Nation who have experienced a negative economic impact due to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The Osage Nation COVID Task Force launched the Osage ARP Cash Assistance Program application portal on Aug. 4, 2021.
Osages are eligible for up to $2,000. The first cash assistance check was issued on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021.
“This is remarkably fast work considering the funding was only approved this month,” said Chief Standing Bear. Since program launch, 10,394 applications have been audited and approved by third party administrator RT Consulting LLC.
RT Consulting LLC is a full-service benefits firm that has been administering the Osage Nation’s health benefit card for the past two years. The firm’s pre-established relationship with Osage Nation was critical to expedite the ARP Cash Assistance process.
“Our focus has been efficiency and accuracy,” said James Weigant, Osage Nation Task Force Coordinator. “Going through a hiring and training process would have significantly increased the distribution timeline. RT Consulting has a proven track record for timely service and have controls in place to prevent abuse of our programs.”
According to Vinnie Daboul, RT Consulting's Managing Director, an important part of their work is auditing applications to make sure the information is accurate.
“Of the 10,000-plus approved applications, one-third came in incomplete,” he said. “A big part of our job is to audit each application to make sure the correct individuals receive their checks at the correct address.”
Daboul said that 274 applications have been denied. Reasons for denial include unauthorized Osage Nation members who are minors (under 18 years old) and/or non-Osage tribal members submitting applications.
Any Osage tribal member whose application has been denied has access to an appeals process. The Osage ARP Cash Assistance program remains open for Osage Nation members who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the Osage Nation has opened temporary membership for infants, which allows Osage families with newborns to apply.