Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Health | Politics
Mark Trahant: Health reform boosts Indian Country


"A generation ago Indian Country wasn’t included in the conversation about health care reform. When Congress enacted Medicaid and Medicare it pretended that the Indian Health Service didn’t exist. It was as if it had never occurred to the government, that it, too, ran a major health care delivery system.

Say what you like about health care reform, the fact is that Indian Country is included in a big way this time around. If either the House or the Senate bill becomes law, there will be a significant boost in resources for the Indian Health system.

The largest single line item is the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, included in H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. The Congressional Budget Office “scores” the cost at $100 million through 2014 and $200 million over a decade. Most of that cost is attributed to the “expansion of payments under Medicare.” This is important because American Indians and Alaskan Natives have the highest percentage of any population over 65 not currently enrolled in Medicare programs.

But the bigger ticket is the expansion of eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The House approach is to expand Medicaid to individuals, couples and families with incomes up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level or about $33,000 a year for a family of four."

Get the Story:
Health care reform means a significant boost in resources for Indian Country (Mark Trahant 11/23)

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