O’Halleran Sends Bipartisan Letter Seeking to Address Indian Health Care

January 27, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran, joined by 26 members of the bipartisan Congressional Native American Caucus, sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell addressing the impact a repeal of the Affordable Care Act will have on tribal communities.

“Indian Country has greatly benefited from the Affordable Care Act, and any discussions to repeal or replace the law must consider a bipartisan solution that protects the commitments we have made to tribal communities. While it is not a perfect law, the ACA’s reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act has saved lives in my district and across the country,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “I am proud of the broad bipartisan support this letter has received from my colleagues in the Native American Caucus, and I look forward to the work we can do for American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

“Part of the Affordable Care Act, the permanent authorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act has saved lives, expanded access to providers, and improved the quality of care for Native Americans across the United States,” Rep. Betty McCollum, the Democratic co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, said. “The Indian Health Care Improvement Act is working for Native American families, both in urban areas and across Indian Country. We must not reverse that progress.”

The Indian Health Care Improvement Act was permanently reauthorized under the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The IHCIA expanded coverage and lower out of pocket costs. In addition, in provides:

  • Expanded programs for mental and behavioral health treatment and prevention, which are helping to curb the high rates of depression, substance abuse, and suicide on tribal lands.
  • New authorities for facilitation of care for Indian veterans, whose community providers are now able to receive reimbursement from the VA for their care.
  • Demonstration programs for health care provider shortages – especially critical in our rural communities where families stand to benefit from emerging models of care delivery like telemedicine.
  • Expanded authorities for long-term care services, including home health care, assisted living and community-based care - providing needed support to caregivers.
  • Expanded authorities for funding of patient travel costs – a critical component of care coordination for patients who must travel hundreds of miles to receive specialized care and treatment.
  • New authorities for urban Indian health programs.