TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Council of the Cherokee Nation on Monday approved a proposal by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. to expand Cherokee Nation Health Services’ hearing aid program to Cherokee Nation citizens who live anywhere in the United States.

The “Hearing Aid Expansion Act of 2022” expands the jurisdictional boundaries of the Cherokee Nation Health Services Hearing Aid Program to any Cherokee Nation citizen living within the U.S., as long as the citizen receives a hearing screening through one of the tribe’s health facilities.

“The Hearing Aid Expansion Act of 2022 is another exciting step in our effort to expand more tribal services to citizens who live outside the Cherokee Nation reservation,” Chief Hoskin said. “Hearing aids can be expensive to acquire, but by opening this program to all Cherokees who live in the United States, we hope we are able to ease some of the financial burdens and added stresses that would otherwise limit our Cherokee citizens.”

Cherokee Nation At-Large Tribal Councilor Johnny Jack Kidwell initially proposed the idea of expanding the program to Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner.

“Chief Hoskin and I are always looking for new ways we can remove obstacles and increase access to services for more Cherokees around the country,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “With the support of the Council of the Cherokee Nation, including Councilor Kidwell, who sponsored this initiative, our expansion will provide improved health care outcomes for so many Cherokees, and their improved health will also mean an improved quality of life. I think that’s a goal we can all get behind and support.”

Cherokee Nation Health Services’ audiology department saw more than 5,400 patients in 2021. The proposed expansion to at-large citizens in the United States would be funded through revenue generated by Cherokee Nation Businesses.

“I am proud to have sponsored this legislation as it appeared before my colleagues on the Council of the Cherokee Nation,” said At-Large Councilor Johnny Jack Kidwell. “We are always looking for more opportunities to expand services to our Cherokee citizens who live outside of the reservation area, so this expansion supported by Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner is very welcome news. I truly appreciate that the Administration supported this idea and collaborated with the Health Services team and Council to achieve this big step for At-Large citizens.”

In 2020, Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner also created a voucher program to help at-large Cherokee citizens who receive an examination and prescription from a Cherokee Nation Health Services facility purchase new eyeglasses.