Ernie Stevens Jr. serves as chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association. Photo: Navajo Nation Washington Office

National Indian Gaming Association backs Obamacare provision

The National Indian Gaming Association is weighing in on efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

NIGA, which represents more than 180 tribal governments, joined the gaming industry in calling on Congress to preserve a provision in the law that designates gambling disorders as a public health matter. Ernie Stevens Jr., a citizen of the Oneida Nation and the longtime chairman of the organization, signed a March 6 letter to top lawmakers.

"We believe this recognition, which did not exist prior to the passage of ACA, is critical not only to enable adequate funding for research, but also to ensure necessary resources and treatment facilities are available for those struggling with problem gambling disorders," the industry groups said in the letter, the contents of which were first reported by the Associated Press.

Republicans unveiled the American Health Care Act on Monday. The measure, which consists of two separate legislative packages, represents their effort to repeal Obamacare and replace certain portions of it with new or modified programs.

The bill makes just one mention of the Indian Health Service. However, the repeal provisions do not affect the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which was made permanent by the ACA, or other pro-tribal provisions of Obamacare, according to the National Indian Health Board.

Republicans have repeatedly promised tribal leaders that they won't harm Indian health.

Read More on the Story:
Casino industry to Congress: Uphold gambling disorders (AP 3/7)