For many Americans seeing the back of the Affordable Care Act was a primary reason for voting in Donald Trump to the American presidency. However for the Native American population that would cause a terrible situation.
More than a hundred years ago, the federal government promised free health care to many tribes. The legislation which protects the treaties which deliver those promises have been rolled into the Affordable Care Act when it became law in 2010. Many tribal leaders are now worried that these protections could disappear if the legislation is revoked.
The provision for Native American health care included in the act was not there as a simple addition. It was the result of thousand of hours of complex negotiations and discussions with the federal government. The Act contains something that was needed for decades a modern protection in federal legislature for the health care requirements of the Native American people.
The health boards of Nine tribes, the National Indian Health Board and several prominent political groups have sent a letter addressing these concerns. Their primary concern is that the various sections in the Act which address Native American healthcare are protected in the event that ACA is repealed.
There is an interesting documentary about this situation which has unsurprisingly been rather overlooked in the political maelstrom of the last few months. It has aired on Netflix and CNN but unfortunately is not now available, it’s difficult to check if it’s on another region with Netflix blocking VPN services at the moment.
The consequences of this not happening would be a disaster for both the Indian health system and the people it seeks to protect. On a practical level it would affect all sorts of areas particularly for urban and rural health centres which run much of the Native American health care provision.
Their concern is a well founded one, already Republican senators have taken the first steps towards repealing the legislation by voting for repeal plans to start on January 27th. If the legislation is repealed in a rush then many of it’s important protections could be lost along with the controversial act. There are many sections which concern the Native American community including a section which allows tribes to employ doctors across state barriers which is essential for certain tribal geographic situations.
Other sections make extra cash available to fund tribal clinics and to bill Medicare for extra services such as cancer screening and health education programmes.