Indian Country and the Affordable Care Act
Walker River Paiute Tribe Chairwoman Amber Torres, Lummi Nation council member Nickolaus Lewis and Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) discuss the Affordable Care Act at the National Tribal Health Conference on October 15, 2020. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) provided remarks at the start of the panel, which addressed the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court case on tribes and their citizens. Opponents of the Affordable Care Act are seeking to invalidate the law, which would also result in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act going away. “Tribal nations prepaid for our healthcare," said Chairwoman Torres. "Our treaties require the federal government to fund our people’s care for the next seven generations and beyond." "The Indian Health Care Improvement Act is foundation to the Indian health system and how it operates. Similarly, the Affordable Care Act has been integral to improving access to care for tribal citizens, bringing significant revenue sources into the chronically underfunded Indian health system and stabilizing tribal and IHS health systems," said Torres. "It is paramount that tribal nations and advocates unite to protect, preserve and expand these critical pieces of legislation.” “The Affordable Care Act literally saves lives across Indian Country,” said Sen. Udall, the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “If the ACA is overturned by the Supreme Court, it would be devastating for Native communities, throwing the Indian Health Service into chaos and stripping health care access from millions of Native Americans." "I encourage Native Americans to raise their voices because Native health is at stake during confirmation of the next Supreme Court justice," Udall said. "I will be doing everything in my power to fight alongside tribes to protect access to affordable health care for all Native Americans.” The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in California v. Texas, also known as Texas v. U.S., on November 10, 2020. The case originated with the same federal judge who struck down the Indian Child Welfare Act.