Obamacare even reaches the Navajo Nation

Congress will review a plan to let the tribe manage its own federally funded health care program.

By Bruce Kennedy Feb 12, 2013 10:16AM
Houses on the Navajo Nation reservation in Window Rock, Arizona on Sept. 7, 2011 (Laura Segall/Bloomberg via Getty Images)The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, may help the Navajo Nation break new legislative ground when it comes to providing medical care for its members.


The Navajo are moving ahead with plans to become the first Native American tribe to manage its own federally funded Medicaid program -- a move that would essentially treat the Navajo Nation as a separate state when it comes to some health care issues.


The plan's feasibility study is scheduled for review by Congress next month.


The Navajo Nation covers more than 27,000 square miles across Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. More than 100,000 of the tribe's 250,000 members are reportedly eligible for Medicaid, but many have had issues with health care programs available to them across the three states.

Larry Curley, with the Nation's Department of Health, told the Farmington, N.M., Daily Times that Navajo often travel long distances to get to clinics for Medicaid services. In addition, said the paper, "all three states are pursuing their own versions of Medicaid within their state boundaries, which creates issues for Navajo who live in one state but sometimes are closer to services in another."

Permanent re-authorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, passed when President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, allowed the Navajo to fund their feasibility study in 2010.

The Indian Country Today Media Network, quoting a government fact sheet, says Obamacare allows Native American tribes to explore more health care options for their members -- while providing those groups with "state-based health exchanges, no cost-share or co-payments, tax incentives, expansion and most of all reimbursements from third parties."

But it's not going to be easy. Curley estimates the current plan will cost up to $120 million to implement. And officials in the states that overlap with the Navajo Nation are expressing their own doubts.

"If we don't do a lot of planning, there's going to be a lot of collateral damage," David Foster, then chairman of the Health Care Committee for the Association of Commerce and Industry of New Mexico, told the Daily Times last year.

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Feb 12, 2013 3:04PM

If Obamacare is so great then woulfn't everyone want to be on this program, I mean its going to save everyone so much money, oop's no wait it won't,

It will cover everyone no matter thier condition, oops no it won't.

It'll save the nation tons of money and take the strain off medicare, oops yeah it won't do that either.

Well it won't have death panels or deny people treatment, oops yeah it will and it it will deny people treatment......hmmmmmm maybe Obamacare isn't all that greta after all and we should over turn it, Its a tax we just don't need and a danger to future medical care for us all!


Feb 12, 2013 3:03PM

It is very frightening that this country offers more privileges to Illegal Citizens then he does to Native Americans. And if they are given a separate health care system, then the USA will fail to protect the True Americans!


Sorry but Native Americans should also be given the opp for lower priced tuition, for health care and mental health care.


Where are the priorities, to ILLEGALS or to our own Native Americans and to Americans!

Feb 12, 2013 3:41PM

I want to know why every time the goverment says their going to do something good for us it costs so much damn money, i thought they get paid to work for us, this is a rediculou

s way to run a country.

Feb 12, 2013 11:59AM

are they gonna have DEATHPANELS too like the rest of us except OBAMA AND BIG RICH LIBERALS AND DEMOCRATS AND HIS


Feb 12, 2013 2:10PM
The Navajo Nation is a federally recognized tribe.  The land is defined as Tribal Trust Land, which is federal land, held in trust for the benefit of the Tribal People.  The Navajo Reservation currently has about 20,000 homes without electricity service and without fresh water.   In many locations, it is a very harsh environment.  As a Nation, the Tribe is not governed by the state.  I think this creates all kinds of problems for the tribe and the state as they try to figure out all the complex rules of the Affordable Care Act.   One thing is very clear; poverty within tribal communities is orders of magnitude greater on reservations than anywhere else in the USA.  Eight of the top twenty-five poorest counties are located in North and South Dakota and they all Tribal Counties.
Feb 12, 2013 3:56PM
As the details are revealed as to what is really in the health care reform there will either be more resistance to government intrusion or people will just throw their hands up in frustration and apathy. It seems as though every few months we hear about some new cost or penalty that will begin in the next few months or following year. Do you smoke? Penalty! Are you overweight? (and who decides if your are and by how much?) Penalty! Sell your house, you could pay a health care "tax" on top of realtor fees and closing costs. Where does it end? We may never know until it plays out and even then it may not ever end because it will become another government program/tax for politicians to tweak and squeeze money from. If it is like most other government programs/taxes, funding will eventually be moved to other pet projects and we may never know it until it's too late. The entire bill was pushed through in a huge hurry so that no one could read through and analyze the results. It's like signing a legal contract without reading it and understanding the implications because the one that wrote it has something to hide and wants you to be legally bound to it. This is typical of how the government is being run and it is snowballing into a money pit of corruption and greed by the politicians.
Feb 12, 2013 3:32PM
In 2014 the younger generation will be mandated to purchase healthcare insurance with no choice. These younger generation are the ones who reelected the POTUS and he will reward them by requiring them to pay more then I pay as a senior citizen by 4 times.  Health insurance will also be required to purchase unneeded toys like motorcycles, high powered boats and racing cars. it's about times these deadbeats are forced to pay the Piper for their bad choice for their vote for the POTUS.  When these health insurance payments arrive at their mailboxes I predict screams of Why did I vote for obummer. This is how her rewards me ?  Sorry  NOT
Feb 12, 2013 3:43PM
Affordable Health Care.  What?  As they read their affordable care act the media can report on all new findings.  Now the Navajo.  None of this obama crap settles well with the majority.  The government can't handle the deluge thats getting ready to hit them!
Feb 12, 2013 3:12PM
Aleen has got to be smoking 4 kinds of crack!!  Those "homesteaders" were illegally given native land so that they can build their homes on it.  Do people actually still think that in any way that this was ok to do?  Do some history and a little bit of math.  Native Americans are the only minority in this country that have shown a significant decrease in population.  Your home is more than likely sitting on land that used to belong to North American tribe but was fraudalently taken by the federal government either through some BS treaty or by shear force.  Making generalized statements about "oh everyone has to do it" does make this problem less valid.  (A third grade ploy still used by a lot of adults apparently)  If all Native American tribes that had their land illegally taken by the feds and given to immigrants were to all of sudden try to collect back property taxes more than likely everyone would get evicted!  There wouldn't be enough money in the world to pay that one off!!!
Feb 12, 2013 4:45PM
Now Obama takes control over the Indians.  Who's will he go after next?  Maybe the Eskimos.  Obama is a control freak jerk.
this is great there is no way this country could ever repay the true American people  
Feb 12, 2013 4:13PM

The health care that is given to Native American is so substandard...


There are so many horror stories of death and malpractice....guess CNN don't want to report on that...they only report on other races...


No studies on those facts...


We can't sue the federal government....so nobody tries...

Feb 12, 2013 3:47PM



Feb 12, 2013 3:46PM
The obama clan first needs to assure everyone that they are on obamacare.  If their not and won't be then we shouldn't either.  If they refuse, lock em up!
Feb 12, 2013 2:57PM
Feb 12, 2013 11:02AM

Pretty sure the Navajo Nation is a seperate State?...Hence the name "Nation".or Sovereign Nation.

Very similar to other Federally recognized Indian Nations.

Feb 12, 2013 3:02PM

I think all the America as a Nation need health care we can afford no matter where you are from.

Feb 12, 2013 5:28PM
The worst thing about Obama care is that it doesn't do a darn thing for people who have lousy insurance or high deductible insurance.  While the working poor pay taxes for illegals to have health insurance, they still don't get better health care.  The working people of this country should have good health care before all of these people sitting on their behinds collecting.  Why is it that if you won't work and you claim to not be able to find a job or you are too fat to work, you get to go to the dentist, and the person who gets up every morning and goes to work and feeds the fat person cannot afford to?  People write these articles about native americans, Hispanic immigrants, and other minority populations but they are really just getting people all riled up about the unfairness of these policies. 
Feb 12, 2013 3:44PM
figures,  federally funded.  in other words  free for them and on the taxpayers backs again.  obama must want their votes for something
Feb 12, 2013 5:19PM
If Obamacare is so great for "Everyone" why does Obama and his Family not have it along with Union's and all the people of the United States. I guess now it's the new Health class war. Everyone will have a different class of care. We the States are not United at all.
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