indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Dynamic Homes
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:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Cherokee Nation chief apologizes for attending live pigeon shoot (10/1)
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Telling the indigenous story with public art (10/1)
DOI puts another $1M from lands sales into Cobell scholarships (10/1)
9th Circuit bars use of tribal conviction in domestic assault case (10/1)
2nd Circuit rebuffs tribal online lenders in dispute with New York (10/1)
Crystal Willcuts: A tribute to my mother who was lost to cancer (10/1)
Seneca Nation man launches campaign for mayor of Salamanca (10/1)
BIA ends comment period on reform to federal recognition rule (10/1)
African-American lawmakers accuse Pamunkey Tribe of racism (10/1)
Officials claim Oklahoma owed $30M in Impact Aid for schools (10/1)
FCC will consider petition to outlaw R-word on public airwaves (10/1)
BLM struggles to manage wild horse population as herds grow (10/1)
Opinion: North Fork Rancheria casino brings boost to economy (10/1)
Report places economic impact of US gaming industry at $240B (10/1)
Shinnecock Nation gaming partner cut $250K monthly payment (10/1)
Column: Seminole Tribe poised for continued growth in gaming (10/1)
Native Sun News: Agency weighs uranium mine near sacred site (9/30)
Jim Abourezk: South Dakota tribes can put Rick Weiland in office (9/30)
Cherokee chief participated in live pigeon shoot for Sen. Inhofe (9/30)
Navajo vice president returns home after near fatal spider bite (9/30)
North Dakota tribe sees big problems as energy industry grows (9/30)
Andre Cramblit: Another year brings challenges for our people (9/30)
Jack Duran: State's 'shocking' attack on Big Lagoon Rancheria (9/30)
Navajo Nation Council to select a new leader after resignation (9/30)
Editorial: Long delayed trust fund settlement for Navajo Nation (9/30)
Keepseagle plaintiffs oppose use of $380M to create foundation (9/30)
Opinion: Working with New Mexico tribes to protect sacred sites (9/30)
Pueblo man chosen as chair of VA minority advisory committee (9/30)
Woman sues over fall at Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe business (9/30)
Seminole Tribe makes another attempt to join banking business (9/30)
Mohegan Tribe purchases more wood pellet production facilities (9/30)
Ponca Tribe takes down old headquarters and readies new home (9/30)
Native Mob gang leader sentenced to 43 years in federal prison (9/30)
Three indicted for murder of man from Northern Arapaho Tribe (9/30)
Rivals funded DC trips to oppose Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/30)
American Gaming Association includes tribes in economic report (9/30)
Editorial: Vote yes to support North Fork Rancheria gaming deal (9/30)
Editorial: Florida shouldn't take a gamble with casino expansion (9/30)
Tim Giago: All Indian people ask is for America to honor treaties (9/29)
Native Sun News: Tribes take on IRS and win battle over taxation (9/29)
Mark Trahant: Indian vote could bring a surprise in South Dakota (9/29)
Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act signed into law by Obama (9/29)
Obama signs law for settlement with Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (9/29)
Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross: Transforming the spirit of suicide (9/29)
Migizi Pensoneau: Behind the scenes at a Washington NFL game (9/29)
Donna Ennis: Ancestor starting asking about trust fund in 1900s (9/29)
Steven Newcomb: Indigenous conference yields power to states (9/29)
Kyle Mays: Rejecting narrowminded views of indigenous studies (9/29)
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.