House Natural Resources Dems Call for Committee Hearings on GOP Health Care Repeal Plan’s Consequences for Indian Country
Washington, D.C.- As House Republicans pursue a rushed and secretive strategy to repeal the Affordable Care Act, top Democrats on the House Committee on Natural Resources today called on Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) to hold a full Committee hearing on the effects that an Affordable Care Act repeal would have on tribal health and communities. The letter was sent by Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Vice-Ranking Member Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs Norma Torres (D-CA), along with nine other colleagues.
The House Natural Resources Committee has jurisdiction over many aspects of the federal government’s relationship with Indian tribes, and under the Democratic majority the committee met in 2007, 2008, and 2009 on amendments to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, including hearings with public testimony and discussion of the health needs of Native American and Alaska Native communities. This public track record was essential to the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act as a provision of the Affordable Care Act.
No such hearings or markups have been held under Republican leadership, despite scheduled votes in two House committees this week that could have direct impacts on tribal health.
“We respectfully request that the full House Natural Resources Committee hold a hearing on the impacts to tribal communities of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA),” the members wrote to Chairman Bishop.
“Tribal communities have long faced barriers to accessing adequate health care. The ACA made critical improvements and investments in native health care, including expanding programs for mental health, substance abuse, and preventative services.
“The repeal of the ACA will only widen health disparities for tribal communities. This Committee should fully understand and hear expert testimony of the impacts such action will have on tribes.”
After the Affordable Care Act took effect, there was an unprecedented reduction to the number of uninsured within the American Indian and Alaskan Native community. Between 2010 and 2015, the uninsured rate among those identifying as American Indian or Alaskan Native fell 8.5 percentage points. Nearly 250,000 more American Indians and Alaska Natives have health insurance in 2015 than 2010.
In addition to Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Norma J. Torres (D-CA), the letter was also signed by Representatives Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA), Darren Soto (D-FL), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA).
The full text of the letter can be found here.