Thursday, May 16, 2013

OBAMACARE To Penalize Half Million Native Americans. Pay for Insurance or Face FINES

Native Americans are entitled to free and subsidized medical care at some federally-funded health clinics, but 'Obamacare' will soon force many of them to buy insurance or else face hefty fines if they are not “Indian enough”.

“A lot of folks are going to get stuck with the bill,” Jay Stiener of the National Council of Urban Indian Health told the Associated Press.

Members of federally-recognized American Indian tribes have received government-funded health services since 1787. Throughout the US, there are 33 hospitals and 59 health centers that provide services including prenatal care, baby well-checks, dentistry and eye glasses to Native Americans.

The US government has treaty obligations to care for the well-being of Native Americans, but may soon abandon many of its legal responsibilities. President Obama’s health care reform will force thousands of Native Americans to purchase their own health insurance or pay a minimum fine of $695 to the Internal Revenue Service. Indian health advocacy groups estimate up to 480,000 people will be affected, AP reports.

Only those who can prove that they are “Indian enough” will be exempt from the mandate. Native Americans will have to show documentation that they belong to one out of 560 tribes that are federally recognized by the US Bureau of Indian Affairs.

There are more than 100 US tribes that are recognized by states, but not the federal government. Members of these tribes would no longer receive the free or subsidized healthcare that they are guaranteed by the Indian Health Service (IHS), which is a division within the US Department of Health and Human Services.

“This could lead to some tribal citizens being required to purchase insurance or face penalties even though they are covered by the HIS,” Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican congressman and member of the Chickasaw Nation tribe, told AP.

Additionally, Native Americans who do not have documentation of their tribe membership will be forced to purchase insurance or pay a fine. This becomes particularly troublesome for Native Americans under the age of 18, since many tribes only provide official membership to adults. Even if both parents of the minors are members, their healthcare coverage may not apply to their children unless they also have the proper documentation.

The health care reform would also complicate the situation for Native Americans who live in metropolitan areas or suburbs. Some tribal governments require members to live on the reservation to gain documentation, which few people do. Nearly two-thirds of American Indians and Alaska Natives currently live in cities, which hinders their ability to receive membership cards from their tribes.

Full Article on Obamacare and Native Americans


Anonymous said...

The tribes with casinos SHOULD NOT get free healthcare anymore....why should the Government pay or these rich tribe members insurance?

Anonymous said...

Effective January 1, 2014 Feather River Tribal Health in Butte County California has informed patients they will lose tribal health coverage if they are not a member of a federally recognized tribe. I would strongly suggest a letter writing campaign to your elected officials and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
This denial of coverage will be devastating to many families.

Anonymous said...

Yes, all disenrolled and non-enrolled natives need to write to ASIA to do something for them, they need to come up with a card that has their Indian Blood Degree on it so that they can get health care and stop giving free health care to Casino Indians who already have healthcare. Did you know that Pala Reservation has received over 20 million dollars in grants in the past 9 years, that is for a community of about 370 people? Doesn't that seem a little wasteful considering how much the Casino makes? And there are no checks and balances to prove that the Grant money is used for the specific purpose it was intended for. They have a grant writer who knows just how to word the grants right, wonder how much they pay her?