The Cherokee Nation has become the first Oklahoma Indian nation to earn an investment grade bond rating, and has issued bonds to support construction of health care clinics in northeast Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation received the rating and stable financial outlook opinion from Fitch Ratings, a global rating agency that provides credit opinions to the credit markets worldwide.
“The Cherokee Nation has developed a stable financial foundation,” said Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. “This rating from Fitch is another validation that the Cherokee Nation is a player in the state and regional economy, with the resources to make major investments to bring services to our communities.”
Fitch gave the investment grade rating based “on the Nation’s strong financial flexibility as reflected in ample reserve levels; strong performance of its gaming operations… and strong coverage of debt service,” according to a company news release. The Cherokee Nation has now sold $30 million of health care system bonds.
The Cherokee Nation is the first tribe in Oklahoma to have completed the rigorous bond rating process. This investment grade bond rating is an indication of the strong, stable financial position of the Cherokee Nation.
“The rating process was an excellent test of our financial strength and stability and I am proud to say that we are in very good shape,” stated Callie Catcher, Cherokee Nation Treasurer.
The money raised from the bonds will fund the construction of two health care clinics in Nowata and Muskogee and to build an annex to an existing clinic in Sallisaw. The expanded clinic services will not only provide a higher level of health care to Native Americans in the area, they will also bring additional health care jobs and boost the overall economy and growth of the region.
The Cherokee Nation’s health care system services approximately 115,000 within its 14-county jurisdictional area. The tribe has six tribal outpatient clinics and two satellite clinics. Patient visits totaled about 305,000 in fiscal 2005. The bonds are secured by a gross pledge on the third party payor revenues of the health care system, including Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance company payments and the full faith and credit of the Cherokee Nation.