The PRC department provides referrals to outside medical providers.  In January 2014, the Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2014 renamed the Contract Health Services program to the Purchased/Referred Care (PRC) program. The PRC funds are used to supplement and complement other health care resources available to eligible American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN).

The department offers: 

1.            Referrals
2.            Scheduling appointments
3.            Paying outside vendors
4.            Vetting payments for services
5.            Alternate resource

Hours of Operation - Monday thru Friday 8:00am to 4:30pm

For more information please call: (828) 497-9163 ext. 6214.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I am eligible for health care from the Indian Health Service, but the local Service Unit will not pay for the surgery, health care, or medicine that I need? Why?

A. Care outside of the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority is called Purchased and Referred Care (PRC).  PRC    has different requirements, to be eligible for PRC you must:

•             Eligible for Direct Care

•             Live within the Contract Health Service Delivery Area (CHSDA):  Jackson County, Swain County, Cherokee County, Haywood County, and Graham County

•             Be a member of the EBCI 

•             If not a member of the EBCI, then must be a member of a federally-recognized Tribe and Live on Indian (reservation) land

OR live within the CHSDA and maintain close economic and/or social ties to the Tribe     

•             The basis for determining a person’s close economic & social ties is established by the tribe & may include:

  • The person is employed by the EBCI
  • The person is married to or is the child of and eligible member of the EBCI
  • The person works for the EBCI

Q: Why haven’t you paid my bill?


  • A: PRC strives to pay every bill timely.  Some obstacles are listed below.Patient does not have a referral from a Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority (CIHA) provider prior to services.
  • Patient has not complied with alternate resource.
  • Patient’s chart is not complete.
  • Outside provider does not send the claim to CIHA.
  • Patient does not bring statements from outside provider to PRC.

Q: Where do I get a referral?
A: Referrals can be processed several ways:

  • Primary care/Emergency Room provider enters referral.  
  • The Managed Care Committee which consists of doctors, nurses, and PRC staff reviews and approves.
  • Patient calls in an emergency situation within 72 hours 
  • The Managed Care Committee reviews and approves.  
  • Referrals may be denied if it is determined that services could have been provided at CIHA