Mark Trahant: Supreme Court ruling helps Indian health program

"Deep within the pages of the Affordable Care Act is a section that is now a permanent fixture, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. This is an important part of the law and its success has broad implications for health-care reform.

The Indian Health Care Improvement Act first became law in October 1976. It may be the most successful piece of legislation ever.

Consider life expectancy: Before the law was enacted, the average age at death for American Indians and Alaska Natives was about 48 years, compared with about 72 years for white Americans. That more than 20-year gap has been reduced to less than five years, or an age at death of about 72 years for Native Americans, compared with the U.S. average of nearly 77 years for all races.

But the 1976 act expired in 2001 and Congress unsuccessfully debated reauthorization. By the time the larger health-care-reform debate began, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act was stuck."

Get the Story:
Mark Trahant: Supreme Court's ruling extends American Indian health-care model of progress, innovation (The Seattle Times 7/10)

Supreme Court Decision:
NFIB v. Sebelius (June 28, 2012)

More from Mark Trahant:
Mark Trahant: Supreme Court ruling changes health care debate (6/28)
Mark Trahant: Day before tomorrow-thoughts on Supreme Court (6/27)
Mark Trahant: Turning out the Native vote for the 2012 elections (6/19)

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