Tribes await Supreme Court's healthcare verdict

Mar 30, 2012

With an initial Supreme Court vote on the controversial Affordable Care Act expected at any time, a big question remains for Native American communities: what if the entire act is struck down?

One section of the ACA that’s especially important to tribal communities in Wyoming is the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. The provision reformed standards established in the 1980’s. This means that if the entire ACA is thrown out, updates to healthcare provided by the Indian Health Service might revert back to outmoded 80’s standards - a return no one seems too thrilled to see come back. The provision’s updates include senior assistance, mental health care, alcohol abuse programs, long-term and home-health care. The Indian Health Service is the Wind River Reservation’s primary source of healthcare.

In an interview from 2011, Jacqeuline Johnson Pata, executive director for the National Congress of American Indians, said it was unclear what repeal of the ACA would mean to tribes."

On Wednesday, Justice Ginsberg referred to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act as one element of the ACA that is “unquestionably okay.”