POKAGON BAND OF POTAWATOMI INDIANS
COVID-19 VACCINE INCENTIVE PROGRAM POLICY
a. After the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the President of the United States issued an emergency declaration for all states, tribes, territories, and the District of Columbia in response to Emergency.
b. The ARP Act, which was enacted in response to COVID-19 pandemic, provides funding to governments, including tribal governments such as the Band, including through the establishment of the FRF to mitigate the fiscal effects from the Emergency.
c. The Emergency has had devasting and disproportionate public health and economic impacts on Tribal communities, including higher rates of infection, hospitalization, and death, as well as higher rates of unemployment and lack of basic necessities.
d. The Band is a sovereign, federally recognized Indian tribe, and under the Band’s Constitution, the Tribal Council is responsible for promoting and protecting the general welfare of the Band.
e. The Tribal Council developed the COVID-19 Vaccine Incentive Program as a general welfare program to respond directly to the Emergency by providing an incentive (“Incentive”) to increase the number of Band Citizens who choose to get vaccinated and/or motivate Citizens to receive the Vaccine sooner than they otherwise would have.
f. Treasury has provided guidance on permissible FRF expenditures and has provided in such guidance that Tribal governments may use FRF funds to pay for vaccine incentive programs "that provide incentives reasonably expected to increase the number of people who choose to get vaccinated, or that motivate people to get vaccinated sooner than they otherwise would have so long as such costs are reasonably proportional to the expected public health benefit"
g. The Tribal Council finds that:
(i) The Program is a necessary expenditure to respond to the Emergency;
(ii) The Program is structured in such a manner to ensure that the Incentive satisfies the requirements of the ARP Act and applicable law;
(iii) The Program is in the best interests of the Pokagon Band to incentivize Band Citizens to receive the Vaccine and reasonably expects that the Incentive will increase the number of Band Citizens who choose to get vaccinated and/or motivate Band Citizens to receive the vaccine sooner than they otherwise would have;
(iv) The Incentive is reasonably proportional to the expected public health benefit of increasing vaccination rates among Band Citizens; and
(v) The Incentive is for the promotion of the general welfare and is not lavish or extravagant.
h. This Policy states the written guidelines under which vaccinated Band Citizens may qualify for the Incentive.
i. The Tribal Council developed the Program with the necessary requirements and criteria so that the Incentive to Band Citizens provided under this Policy is an “Indian general welfare benefit” as provided by 26 U.S.C. 139E(a) and therefore excluded from gross income and not subject to tax withholding or reporting under the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act, 26 U.S.C. 139E and IRS Revenue Procedure 2014-35.
j. The Incentive shall be funded solely from FRF funds the Band received pursuant to the ARP Act.
k. This Policy shall be interpreted, and the Program administered, in a manner consistent with the above purposes.
a. “Adult” means a person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older.
b. “Applicant” means any Adult Band Citizen who submits an application for the Incentive to the Department or any Non-Citizen Parent who submits an application on behalf of a Band Citizen Minor.
c. “ARP Act” means American Rescue Plan ("ARP") Act of 2021, P.L. 117-2
d. “Band” means the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.
e. “Band Citizen” means an enrolled member of the Band.
f. “COVID-19” means the Coronavirus Disease 2019.
g. “Department” means the Band’s Department of Information Technology.
h. “Director” means the Director of the Department.
i. “Emergency” means the COVID-19 public health emergency.
j. “FRF” means the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund established pursuant to the ARP Act.
k. “Incentive” means the one-time Vaccine incentive payment provided to or for Band Citizens under the Program established under this Policy as an incentive to increase vaccination rates among Band Citizens and/or motivate Citizens to receive the Vaccine sooner than they otherwise would have.
l. “Minor” means a Band Citizen who is less than 18 years of age.
m. “Non-Citizen Parent” means a person who:
(i) is not a Band Citizen;
(ii) is the biological or adoptive parent, step-parent, or legal guardian of a Minor; and
(iii) has sole or joint custody (both legal and physical) of the Minor.
n. “Parent” means a person who:
(i) Is the biological or adoptive parent, step-parent, or legal guardian of a Minor, whether a Band Citizen or Non-Citizen Parent; and
(ii) Has sole or joint custody (both legal and physical) of the Minor.
o. “Policy” means this COVID-19 Vaccine Incentive Program Policy.
p. “Program” means the COVID-19 Vaccine Incentive Program established under this Policy.
q. “Treasury” means the United States Department of Treasury.
r. “Tribal Council” means the governing body of the Band established pursuant to Article X of the Constitution.
s. “Vaccine” means a vaccine authorized or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a COVID-19 vaccine and administered in accordance with all other applicable Federal rules and regulations and the conditions for the provider or supplier receiving vaccine supply from the Federal government.
a. To qualify for the Incentive under the Program, a person must:
(i) Be a Band Citizen, whether an Adult or Minor (no other person shall be eligible for the Program);
(ii) Have received, at any time (including prior to adoption of this Policy), but not later than December 31, 2021, all doses (one dose or two, depending on the Vaccine) of the Vaccine required to be fully Vaccinated against COVID-19; and
(iii) Complete and return to the Department an application as described in Section 4 of this Policy and supply all required documentation, including as set forth in Exhibit A, Schedule of Acceptable Documents.
b. The Applicant shall have the burden of proving eligibility under the Program.
c. The Incentive shall only be available to Applicants who meet all requirements of this Policy and shall:
(i) be awarded in accordance with this Policy to any Applicant who meets the requirements of this Policy, subject to the limitations of this Policy; and
(ii) not discriminate in favor of members of the Tribal Council.
a. All applications for the Incentive shall be made on an application provided by the Department.
b. All applications for the Incentive shall require the Applicant to provide, at a minimum, the following information:
(i) The Applicant’s name, address, telephone number, and date of birth, and if the Applicant is a Non-Citizen Parent for a Minor, a copy of a current photo identification;
(ii) The Band enrollment number and date of birth for each eligible Band Citizen listed in the Application; and
(iii) Proof that the Band Citizen received all doses of the Vaccine, which shall be either:
(A) A copy of the Band’s Citizens Vaccination Record Card: or
(B) A letter from the Band Citizen’s doctor stating the date the Band Citizen was fully Vaccinated.
c. If the application seeks an Incentive for a Minor, the Applicant must be a Parent.
d. All applications for the Incentive shall be signed by the Applicant and shall include, without limitation, an attestation and certification that:
(i) The Applicant has read the Policy in effect at the time the application is submitted and is eligible to receive the Incentive under the Policy;
(ii) To the best of the Applicant’s information, knowledge, and belief all information provided is true, accurate, and complete;
(iii) The Applicant acknowledges and understands that although the Band has structured the Program with the intent that the Incentive be non-taxable, that if the IRS deems the Incentive to be taxable, the Band Citizen (and not the Band) shall be solely responsible for any taxes, interest and penalties owed from the Applicant’s receipt of any Incentive; and
(iv) The Applicant acknowledges and understands that providing any false information may subject the Applicant to legal action, including without limitation, criminal prosecution.
e. All applications shall be delivered to the Director at the Department by any of the following methods:
(i) Personal or private courier delivery;
(ii) U.S. mail; or
(iii) Electronically, including without limitation, e-mail or fax.
f. No application will be accepted after 5:00 pm, December 31, 2021.
g. An application or a signature on an application shall not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form, and an application shall not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because an electronic record was used in its formation. An electronic record of an application or electronic signature on an application shall be attributable to a person if it is the act of the person, which may be shown in any manner (including a showing of the efficacy of any security procedures applied to determine the person to which the electronic record or electronic signature was attributable), and the effect of an electronic record of an application or electronic signature on an application attributed to a person shall be determined from the context and surrounding circumstances at the time of its creation, execution, or adoption. The Department, giving due consideration to security, may specify any of the following as appropriate for the submission of an electronic record of an application or electronic signature on an application:
(i) the manner and format in which the electronic records must be created, generated, sent, communicated, received, and stored and the systems established for such purposes;
(ii) if an electronic record is required to be signed by electronic means, the type of electronic signature required, the manner and format in which the electronic signature is to be affixed to the electronic record;
(iii) control processes and procedures as appropriate to ensure adequate preservation, disposition, integrity, security, confidentiality, and auditability of electronic records; and
(iv) any other require attributes for electronic records that are specified for corresponding nonelectronic records or reasonably necessary under the circumstances.
5. AMOUNT AND PAYMENT
a. The Incentive shall be a one-time payment of $500.
b. The Incentive shall be paid to the Band Citizen, unless the Band Citizen is a Minor. If the Band Citizen is a Minor, the Incentive shall be paid to the Band Citizen’s Parent identified in the application.
c. The Incentive is limited and subject to available funding.
d. The Incentive shall :
(i) not be tied to or contingent upon any other arrangement or agreement between the Band and the Citizen Federal healthcare program beneficiary;
(ii) not be conditioned on the recipient's past or anticipated future use of other items or services that are reimbursable, in whole or in part, by Federal healthcare programs; and
(iii) be offered without taking into account the insurance coverage or lack of insurance coverage of the Citizen.
a. Any decision by the Director, including without limitation, regarding any documentation deemed necessary by the Director to evaluate the application, shall be final and shall not be subject to review or appeal.
b. The Incentive will be awarded to eligible Band Citizens on a first-come, first-served basis.
c. Payments for the Incentive will be processed through the Pokagon Band’s regular accounts payable process. Payments may take two weeks or more, depending upon when the completed application, including proof of vaccination, was received by the Department.
d. This Policy shall be interpreted in a manner that is consistent with any applicable guidance issued by Treasury regarding the ARP Act.
e. While this Policy is structured with the intent that the Assistance be non-taxable to Band Citizens under the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act and IRS Revenue Procedure 2014-35, if the Internal Revenue Service deems the Incentive to be taxable, then the Band Citizen (and not the Band) shall be solely responsible for any taxes, interest and penalties owed from receipt of the Assistance. Band Citizens are encouraged to contact a tax advisor with any tax questions relating to the Incentive.
f. Band funds for the Incentive shall remain the assets of the Band until distributed.
g. The Incentive shall not be subject to anticipation, alienation, assignment (either at law or in equity), pledge, encumbrance, attachment, garnishment, levy, or execution.
h. The Department shall maintain all Program records for a minimum of 5 years from December 31, 2021, but if other applicable Band law or policy requires such records be maintained beyond such time, the Department shall maintain such records for the minimum duration required by such applicable Band law or policy.
i. Nothing in this Policy shall be construed to vest in any person any right or interest in any Band revenues or assets.
j. The Tribal Council reserves the right to amend or repeal this Policy, subject to applicable Band and federal law.
l. Nothing in this Policy shall: (i) create any obligation that is legally enforceable against the Band; or (ii) waive the sovereign immunity of the Band or any of its officials or employees.
l. In any criminal or civil proceeding arising from or related to this Program or Policy, evidence of a record or signature shall not be excluded solely because it is in electronic form.
Questions? Contact (269) 783-3172
Paper version of application available below. Applications can be mailed to Pokagon Band Vaccine Incentive Program, P.O. Box 180, Dowagiac MI 49047