KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Navajo Nation Expects Changes From Health Reform

"Congress passed the health care reform legislation – and President Barack Obama signed the bill into law. The Indian Health Care Improvement Act was included – and now we can put this debate to rest. Right?," Indian Country Today says, in an analysis. The answer to the question is: "Actually no. There are many more debates about health care reform to come – probably for years – and much work remains before this law can be implemented. ... [But][ the legislation sets up many experiments, requiring either demonstration projects or feasibility studies. One of the exciting studies will look at treating the Navajo Nation as a state for purposes of Medicaid, Medicare and Children's Health Insurance.  … the government should save money because the rules could be made simpler and easier to process with Navajo rules for eligibility instead of three different state standards, and the Navajo Nation should be able to better serve its citizens."

The story also notes that the law would allow facilities in the Indian health system to provide services to non-Indians. "On one hand, some Native American patients might feel that their clinic is already short on personnel and service. Then, on the other hand, by broadening the base of patients, smaller clinics could actually grow and have more resources to spend on every patient" (Trahant, 4/12).

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