Passage of Indian Health Care Improvement Act High on Agenda for American Indian Voters, National Congress of American Indians Says
The executive council of the National Congress of American Indians recently held a three-day meeting in Washington, D.C., to discuss strategy, legislative policy and the top issues for American Indian voters in the presidential election, NPR's "The Bryant Park Project" reports. NCAI represents more than 250 tribes, accounting for 70% of the American Indian population.
Jacqueline Johnson, executive director of NCAI, said passage of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act is a top priority for the group this year. NCAI is working to rally presidential candidates to push for passage of the bill. Johnson said the bill would modernize the Indian Health System and allow tribes to address issues such as in-home care, developments in Medicare and Medicaid, mental health needs and changes in substance use patterns among American Indians.
Johnson said American Indians face challenges in influencing campaign agendas because they are a small constituency and historically have not had high voter turnout. To address the issue, NCAI is working to educate voters about the impact American Indian voters have had in recent elections in Arizona, Montana and other states. There are about 17 states where the American Indian vote can have a significant impact on election outcomes, Johnson said. NCAI also is working to get more polling places on reservations ("The Bryant Park Project," NPR, 3/6).
Audio of the segment is available online.