"In the summer of 2004, Native American activist Kay McGowan spotted David Santacroce at a cocktail party. Santacroce directs the University of Michigan Clinical Law Program that gives students hands-on training with clients who otherwise could not afford legal representation. McGowan, a cultural anthropologist, author and university instructor who is a member of the National Urban Indian Coalition
, told Santacroce she had a great potential case for him — suing the federal government to provide promised health care to Native Americans.
"If I had a dollar for every person who has come up to me with a glass of wine in their hand and told me, 'I have a great case for you,' I would be a rich man," Santacroce says.
But Santacroce listened. And later he and his students researched the issue. What they found was a repeatedly recognized legal obligation based on treaties, codified in legislation, and reaffirmed by Congress and court decisions for the federal government to provide health insurance to all Native Americans.
On April 6, the U-M Clinical Law Program plans to file a class action suit in Federal District Court in Detroit on behalf of Native Americans living in this area. If successful, the suit would force the government to provide health care for them and set a legal precedent that could have ramifications for every Native American in the United States.
The statistics on the state of health care for American Indians are staggering."
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(The Detroit Metro Times 5/5)