Thursday, February 10, 2011

What would Health Care Repeal mean for Indian Country?

What would Health Care Repeal mean for Indian Country?

cherokee one feather THURSDAY, JANUARY 27, 2011

“A vote to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act would only
turn back the clock on the real progress we are making toward
ensuring that Na ve Americans have access to quality affordable
health care.”
- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

The Republican-driven House of Representatives voted 245-189 on Wednesday, Jan. 19 to
repeal the Affordable Healthcare for America Act which included the Indian Health Care
Improvement Act. Looked at as a mostly symbolic act as the Democratic-majority
Senate would be unlikely to vote along for the repeal, what would a possible repeal
mean for Indian Country? “A vote to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act would only turn back the clock on the real progress we are making toward ensuring that Native Americans
have access to quality affordable health care,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar the day after the vote. “The Affordable Care Act included landmark legislation that permanently reauthorizes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which is so important to modernizing and improving the health care provided by the Indian Health Service to American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

According to information from the DOI, if the Act is repealed, several key provisions would be taken away from American Indians including: tax exclusions for individuals whose Tribes have
purchased health insurances for its enrolled members, exemption from tax penalties for those who don’t enroll in an exchange plan, and allowing tribes to purchase federal insurance for employees. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, agrees with Salazars’s sentiments. “Rolling back these health care reforms would be a serious setback for the health of American Indian communities everywhere. Native American communities need more health care, not less, and the Republican efforts to take away
patient rights will affect millions of our citizens, neighbors, friends and family

The Republicans were supported by three Democrats including Rep. Dan
Boren (D-OK) whose district includes parts of the Cherokee Nation. “Like most
Oklahomans, I support common-sense health care reforms such as preventing insurance companies from denying individuals with pre-existing conditions, allowing children to stay on their parents insurance until they are 26, and making it illegal to drop someone because they are sick,” he said. “However, when taken as a whole, the health care legislation adds
far too many taxes, mandates, and regulations that burden Oklahoma families and prevent our nation’s job creators from producing the kind of economic growth that
is sorely needed.”

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), whose district includes the Eastern Band
of Cherokee Indians, voted against the repeal stating, “The American people expect
Congress to find real solutions to the challenges facing us, not continue divisive
partisan bickering. The healthcare legislation that passed last year had serious
flaws, and we should be working to solve those problems.”

While not specifically addressing Indian Country, Secretary of Agriculture
Tom Visick said in a statement on Thursday that a repeal would have vast affects
on rural Americans, a category many American Indians fit into. “Approximately 80 percent of rural Americans are self employed or work for a small business. The law is bringing down their
health care costs and the tax incentives it provides will help small businesses hire
more people and provide health care coverage to employees.”

"When crazy people call you crazy,
you know you're sane.
When evil people call you evil,
you know that you are a good person.
When lairs call you a liar,
you know that you are truthful.
Know who you are and don't let
others tell you who you are."
- Dave Kitchen

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