Health | Opinion

Lillian Sparks Robinson: ACA brings benefits to Indian Country





Lillian Sparks Robinson, the Commissioner for the Administration for Native Americans, explains how the Affordable Care Act benefits American Indians and Alaska Natives:
For nearly two decades Tribes and health advocates, including myself, fought for reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the “cornerstone legal authority for the provision of healthcare to American Indians and Alaska Natives.” Finally, through the Affordable Care Act, we have permanent reauthorization of Indian Health Services.

Additionally, Indian Country has experienced gains in the funding of Indian healthcare over the years, but it still is not enough to make up the gap between what is needed to fully-fund health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives. That is why it is so important for us to sign up for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or to purchase health insurance through the marketplace. Choosing to protect and care for our health does not jeopardize the future of Indian Health Service as some may worry, in fact it may do just the opposite!

IHS facilities have the ability to bill Medicare/Medicaid and CHIP, as well as private health insurance, for services provided, which means that when you are insured, you bring more health care dollars to your local service provider, which improves the care you receive and the care available in the community. Our communities face some very dire health disparities including diabetes mortality rates that are still nearly three times higher for American Indians and Alaska Natives than for the general U.S. population. We still need Congress to do their part for funding, but now is a chance for you to do something today, that can benefit the situation.

Get the Story:
Lillian Sparks Robinson: The Affordable Care Act: What’s in it for American Indians and Alaska Natives? (ACF Blog 3/10)