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Health | Law
South Dakota tribes upset by lawsuit over health care bill


The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association criticized South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley for joining a lawsuit against the national health reform bill that includes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

Tribes fought for over a decade to reauthorize the IHCIA. It finally became law when President Barack Obama signed H.R.3590 earlier this week.

"This legislation is a lifeline for tribal members in South Dakota who have been struggling with grossly inadequate funding for health care for several years," said Oglala Sioux Tribe President Theresa Two Bulls, who serves as chair of the GPTCA. "In fact, the lack of adequate funding caused a serious deterioration in the health of our people."

But 13 state attorneys general, including Jackley, say the bill is unconstitutional. They say Congress overstepped its authority by requiring all Americans to secure health insurance.

Native Americans who receive care through the Indian Health Service, tribes, Alaska Native entities or urban Indian organizations are exempt from the mandatory health coverage component of the new law. Nevertheless, Two Bulls said Jackley shouldn't have joined the lawsuit.

"We are disappointed in Mr. Jackley's actions, which can only be perceived by the tribal community in South Dakota as hostile to their health and welfare," said Two Bulls "When he served as the U.S. Attorney, we had a fairly good working relationship with him, and we are extremely disappointed to see him take this position now that he has taken over as Attorney General for South Dakota."

"What South Dakotans need to realize is that more health care dollars for Indian tribes means more dollars for medical providers in South Dakota, because of the many Contract Care referrals by the Indian Health Service to state hospitals, doctors and specialists," added Two Bulls.

Jackley served as the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota from 2006 through 2009.

Indian Health Care Improvement Act:
S.1790 | H.R.2708

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