Donald Trump has challenged the health policy of the native Americans. The natives might need to get the job first if they want to use medical facilities in the United States. This new medical workout has imposed in several states but the tribal leaders want an exclusion from this bill. But according to Obamacare’s healthcare policy, American Indians do not need to pay for not having health coverage.
But according to Trump administration, tribes are treated as a race but not as a separate government and exempting them from this health policy would be illegal. While talking on this issue, the administration lawmakers said that this exclusion will raise many federal law concerns.
According to HHS (Health and Human Services Department), the tribe’s request for exemption had been rejected many times before. The initial decision was made by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in January and now the latest decision was made in a meeting with the tribes. The initial decision was made public by the administrator of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Seema Verma.
The Health and Human Services Department decision was backed by many other political parties and leaders. However, HHS is open to negotiating with tribes over this ruling. The spokesman of HHS Caitlin Oakley said that there is a room for an amendment in this ruling.
The tribes said that our claim to racial preference is subject to discussion and the American Indians are treated as separate government according to the constitution. According to tribes, Native Americans were also treated as a separate government back in the days of Bush and Obama. According to Mary Smith, who was the acting head of Indian Health Service during Obama reign, it is the responsibility of the United States to provide Native American with the medical facilities.
She further said that the Native Americans had paid the price for this health system and now they are being told that they must add a work requirement for utilizing the medical facility. She added that this is the largest health system in the world and cannot ignore Native Americans.
However, many tribe leaders are saying that this Medicaid rule is just the beginning and Trump administration is eyeing to implement the similar changes across all welfare programs which will affect more than 3 million Indian Americans across the United States. While speaking on this rule change, Caitrin McCarron, a member of National Indian Health Board, said that the highest death ratios in the country are recorded in the Native Americans and it’s very troublesome. McCarron further told that Indian Americans are facing unemployment and this Medicaid rule will add to their misery.
Back in 2016, the unemployment rate in the Native Americans was 12% which is three times than the average unemployment rate in the whole of the United States. Federal spendings on Indian Americans Healthcare are also low. According to a tribe leader W. Ron Allen, the Native Americans Health System will not survive without the help of Medicaid supplement. Till now three states – Indiana, Arkansas, and Kentucky have been ordered to start instituting Medicaid requirements. Other than these three states, ten other states have also started to work on the Medicaid application.
As stated in 2014 census, there are total 620,000 Native Americans in those 13 states. And there are chances that more states will be involved in the Medicaid work requirements in future. However, there are some states which are asking HSS to exempt Native Americans from this healthcare policy. But there are very fewer chances for this exemption.
However, tribe officials are confident that they may avoid a legal fight with Trump administration over this issue. A 33-page memo was submitted by the tribe officials in which they warned Trump cabinet they are violating the healthcare policies. The memo stated that Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should ensure that the Medicaid work requirements are not imposed on Native Americans.
CMS not only has the responsibility to stand against such rules but also has the authority to change these policies. However, Trump administration also cut down the budget for Indian Health Service last year. And this year’s budget was no different as the White House eliminated health initiatives like old community healthcare program, which according to tribal officials is a necessary program for old people.