your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Mark Trahant: Termination returns in the health reform debate
Monday, March 28, 2011
Filed Under: Health | Opinion
More on: hcr, ihcia, mark trahant, termination
Just over a year ago President Barack Obama signed the health care reform bill into law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That measure, of course, also includes the permanent authorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

So what has happened since the president signed the bill into law on March 23, 2010? That question cannot be answered. Not yet. Part of the answer is working its way through the court system with legal challenges. And other parts of the answer are stuck in a political debate even as federal agencies continue to write rules for its implementation.

The administration has lived up to the spirit and the intent of the health care reform law. A new report by the National Congress of American Indians, National Indian Health Board and the National Council of Urban Indian Health says it this way: “... the President’s budget was a true commitment to the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The FY12 budget shows increased funding for IHS, Administration on Aging, and Health Resources and Services Administration.”

Indeed the president asked Congress for a 14 percent increase for programs such as the always underfunded Contract Health Services, alcohol and substance abuse, facility construction and to implement the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

In any other year that all would be great news. But the rub is that Congress, not the president, appropriates money. And that process is left hanging by the deep divide in Congress about the very nature and role of the federal government.

The new law, for example, sets out a funding formula for IHS, tribal contracted or tribal organization health care facilities based on what is spent for health insurance for federal employees. The “need” is at least 55 percent of that benchmark, but even with recent gains the spending-level remains at about 46 percent. At best allies of tribes in Congress are talking about protecting the Indian health system -- not securing additional money. It’s going to be a tough sell on Capitol Hill to get even modest funding.

It’s important to remember that most of the money that will be required for health care comes from the entitlement portion of the budget. That is Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance. This is money on automatic pilot. If a person is eligible, the money is supposed to be there without an annual appropriation. But the money for the Indian health system requires Congress to act in the affirmative. It has to agree to spend the money. That difference is why there’s always a shortage of money and a failure to reach the 55 percent federal employee benchmark.

We in Indian Country understand health care as a federal government obligation. We know the history -- and have been painful witnesses to the shortage of funds. I bring this up because there’s another narrative surfacing; one that parallels the language used decades ago to justify termination of federal services.

First, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul called for the elimination of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and a drastic reduction in Indian health spending. Then last week Fox’s John Stoessel said: “Why is there a Bureau of Indian Affairs? There is no Bureau of Puerto Rican Affairs or Black Affairs or Irish Affairs. And no group in America has been more helped by the government than the American Indians, because we have the treaties, we stole their land. But 200 years later, no group does worse.”

Rand and Stoessel might as well have attributed their ideas to Sen. Arthur Watkins. A generation ago the Republican from Utah was the congressional champion of termination. He promised to “free the Indians” from all those special restrictions against private property (the same ones Stoessel talked about on Fox). “This is not a novel development, but a natural outgrowth of our relationship with the Indians,” Watkins wrote in 1957. “...After all, the matter of freeing the Indian from wardship status is not rightfully a subject to debate in academic fashion, with facts marshalled here and there to be maneuvered and countermaneuvered in a vast battle of words and ideas.”

By every measure termination was a disaster as a public policy. It was legal theft and a failure so great that even a casual reference should be outside that battle of words and ideas.

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s new book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

Related Stories:
Mark Trahant: Investing in young people before we all go broke (3/22)
Mark Trahant: Tragedy in Japan puts Yucca Mountain in scrutiny (3/14)
Mark Trahant: Policy will costs thousands of Indian Country jobs (3/7)
Mark Trahant: Tribes tested by budget cuts to Indian programs (2/28)
Mark Trahant: Tribes need a Plan B in case of federal shutdown (2/22)
Mark Trahant: Budget for Indian programs mostly a lost cause (2/15)
Mark Trahant: The Indian Health Service and state budget shortage (2/7)
Mark Trahant: Protecting the budget for Indian Country programs (1/31)
Mark Trahant: The sky doesn't have to fall on Indian health budget (1/24)
Mark Trahant: Real fight over health care reform all about funding (1/17)
Mark Trahant: Finding a way to a more civil discourse in America (1/10)
Mark Trahant: Indian health care a GOP target in the new Congress (1/3)
Mark Trahant: A new standard for the federal-tribal relationship (12/20)
Mark Trahant: Asking President Obama about Indian health care (12/13)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Lakota swimmers promote healthy lifestyles (11/30)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Indoctrinated at Indian boarding school (11/30)
Brandon Ecoffey: President of tribal college takes aim at paper (11/30)
Bobbi Rose Nez: Big Brothers Big Sisters reaches Native youth (11/30)
Terry Brunner: USDA helping tribes build stronger economies (11/30)
Alice Soscia: Connecticut tribes share wealth with community (11/30)
Brigid Harrison: Lenni-Lenape Nation battles for recognition (11/30)
Supreme Court throws wrench into Native Hawaiian election (11/30)
Official in Paraguay fired for kicking Indian woman in stomach (11/30)
Jamul Indian Village slated to open $390M casino in July 2016 (11/30)
Native Sun News: Tribal member speaks out against fracking (11/27)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud mothers address meth issues (11/27)
Tim Giago: Walk a mile in the moccasins of Native Americans (11/27)
Vince Two Eagles: Focus on being thankful this holiday season (11/27)
Native Sun News: Keystone fighters celebrate permit's defeat (11/27)
Kevin Leecy: Tribes remain a vital segment of our community (11/27)
Steven Newcomb: Even media treats our nations as 'nothing' (11/27)
Ray Cook: Thanksgiving flies in the face of original Americans (11/27)
Terese Mailhot: Racism prevails in American popular culture (11/27)
Ilya Somin: Persistent 'myth' justified taking of Indian lands (11/27)
Ak-Chin Indian Community sued for same-sex marriage ban (11/27)
Cahuilla Band celebrates new travel center at gaming facility (11/27)
Opinion: Don't break promise to Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe (11/27)
Native Sun News: Family questions FBI on reservation death (11/25)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud students earn top scholarship (11/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Making a difference for people on Pine Ridge (11/25)
Yurok Tribe: Mourning the passing of 'visionary' Troy Fletcher (11/25)
Ned Blackhawk: Supreme Court case jeopardizes tribal rights (11/25)
Steve Russell: The real origins of the world's terrorism crisis (11/25)
Ramona Peters: Sharing a Wampanoag story of Thanksgiving (11/25)
Yatibaey Evans: Let's all teach the truth about Native history (11/25)
Martie Simmons: Every Native parent dreads this time of year (11/25)
Eric Metaxas: The 'miracle' of Squanto and first Thanksgiving (11/25)
Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to late Billy Frank Jr (11/25)
Oneida Nation opens first branch location of tribal-owned bank (11/25)
Virginia tribes continue to pay tribute required by 1677 treaty (11/25)
Chukchansi Tribe reaches new agreement for shuttered casino (11/25)
Poarch Band to welcome visitors to $65M expansion at casino (11/25)
Stillaguamish Tribe debuts eatery and microbrewery at casino (11/25)
Connecticut tribes consider proposals for third gaming facilty (11/25)
Mark Pilarski: Why are games different at some tribal casinos? (11/25)
Tribes seek support for Native language instruction programs (11/24)
Rep. Mullin confirms divisions in Indian Country on Carcieri fix (11/24)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.