Monday, March 24, 2014

Affordable Care Act focus of Native American Caucus meeting

Affordable Care Act focus of Native American Caucus meeting

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX Recently the Arizona Legislature’s Native American Caucus met to discuss the Affordable Care Act and its effects on Native American health care. Members heard presentations from healthcare experts on options and benefits under the ACA that would best cover Native Americans.

“The Affordable Care Act is a vast, complex law that has been the subject of considerable ambiguity and confusion, including the impacts and application the ACA has had on tribal governments and tribal citizens,” Sen. Carlyle Begay, D-Ganado (District 7), said. “It is important for us to continue to work on helping both rural and urban tribal members understand the benefits of having health insurance and what it can mean to their local community, as well as their own individual health care. We need to continue to work to increase access to quality, affordable health coverage, invest in prevention and wellness, and give individuals and families more control over their care.”

The health systems director of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., Alida Montiel, gave an overview of the ACA. The presentation included information on access, outreach and enrollment resources for affordable health insurance for native businesses, families and individuals.

“The Affordable Care Act is landmark legislation that sets a process by which all Americans will have access to affordable healthcare,” Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), said. “It is the current law of the land. It has significant and beneficial provisions. For Native Americans, it supplements and complements the health care provided by the federal government pursuant to its trust obligations to Native Americans.”

The chief legislative liaison of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Jennifer Carusetta, also spoke about changes to and eligibility for AHCCCS. She outlined implementation and resources for eligibility for different Medicaid coverage options and the impact they would have on Native Americans in Arizona.

Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7), highlighted the flexibility of the coverage options.

“The most important fact Native Americans need to be aware of is that they are not subject to open enrollment. They can change their enrollment status in any plan through the Marketplace once a month. Individuals who currently receive healthcare through Indian Health Services, the 638 tribal care facilities or Urban Tribal Clinics are still encouraged to apply for health coverage on the exchange or through Medicaid,” she said. “Acquiring health insurance ensures that there is a payment source for health providers and hospitals that would otherwise not be compensated for providing care. This helps ensure the viability of our health care system in the future.  We will all be better able to keep our service centers financially stable and help keep people in better health overall.” 

Hale added that it is important for people to have access to quality, affordable health care.

“I urge and encourage all to become familiar with the law, learn about the benefits, find out how to sign up for those benefits, and sign up for those benefits,” Hale said.

The Native American Caucus would like to encourage people to get involved in the legislative process and to make sure their voices are heard. To receive a registration form for a Request to Speak System account, please email Melissa Upshaw at or call the office of Rep. Hale at 602-926-4323. Once your account is created, you will receive the Request to Speak System Manual by email and you can comment on bills being heard in committees through your online access by going to and clicking the Request to Speak System link.


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