American Indian Clinics Stand To Benefit From the Affordable Care Act
California clinics that serve American Indians stand to benefit under several provisions in the Affordable Care Act, HealthyCal reports.
American Indians face higher mortality rates for ailments like heart disease, cancer and diabetes than any other ethnic group.
The federal government is required to provide health care services to American Indians, many of whom receive no-cost treatment at tribal health clinics across the U.S.
However, Indian Health Services -- the federal agency that provides a large portion of the clinics' funding -- only reimburses about 60% of patient expenses.
Frederick Rundlet -- executive director of Consolidated Tribal Health Project clinic in rural Mendocino County -- said, "There's an expression inÂ Indian Country: 'Don't get sick after July.'" Funding for the year often runs out at the clinics by the end of the summer, according to HealthyCal.
Details of ACA Benefits for American Indian Clinics
However, the ACA expands access to Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, to anyone in a family of four making $31,000 or less annually.
The median income of American Indians is $35,000 annually, $15,000 less per year than the national average.
In addition, childless adults who make $15,000 or less annually now can qualify for Medi-Cal under the ACA.
Treatment of American Indians enrolled in Medi-Cal is covered entirely by federal funding.
Jim Crouch -- executive director of the California Rural Indian Health Board -- said, "Tribal health policies in California are always very dependent on their Medi-Cal coverage for their community."
The ACA also makes permanent the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. The act expands mental health and long-term care programs for American Indians, in addition to initiatives that aid American Indians who are veterans and those who live in urban areas.
Meanwhile, American Indians from tribes that are not federally recognized also can qualify for health coverage under the IHCIA.In addition, the ACA requires tribal consultation in the development of the state health insurance exchange (Shanafelt, HealthyCal, 3/12). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.