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Health | Opinion
Mark Trahant: Questions about tribes and health reform law


"Of course the story in Indian Country is not exactly a topic on cable. It’s also practically a non-story in daily newspapers, on TV and radio news programs or even Internet news sites. This is too bad because the Indian Health Care Improvement Act is a significant part of the entire reform process; it’s now a package deal.

What’s more this lack of information means that Indian Country – tribes and individual citizens – will have a much more difficult time figuring out the impact of the law on our governments and our families.

For example the law immediately “fixes” the problem that occurred when tribal governments purchased blanket health insurance for members. The IRS had taken the position that such a deal was a taxable event. But, as a U.S. House timeline describes the next steps, the tax code “ Excludes from gross income the value of specified Indian tribal health benefits. The provision is effective for benefits and coverage provided after the date of enactment.”

In other words tribes are free to supplement the Indian health system from their own resources.

But the big question – one that will need to wait for more specifics from the regulations – centers on how much health insurance will tribes be required to purchase for their full-time employees."

Get the Story:
Tribes are employers – so there is a mandate (Mark Trahant 5/24)

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