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Navajo Council Urges Congress Against Indian Health Care Repeal

Navajo Times

The Navajo Nation Council wants Congress to protect federal Native American healthcare programs. The council passed a bill in a special session yesterday calling on lawmakers to shield the Indian Health Care Improvement Act from repeal. Arizona Public Radio’ Ryan Heinsius reports.

The IHCIA was made permanent when the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010. Tribal leaders now worry that if the ACA is repealed, the IHCIA will go with it.

The Navajo council’s bill says losing the IHCIA would result in disastrous consequences for tribal communities. According to the lawmakers, its repeal would cost the tribe nearly $40 million dollars a year in services, and impact almost 400 jobs within the Navajo Nation Department of Health.

The IHCIA provides healthcare access and programs for about 330,000 members of the Navajo Nation, and more than 2 million tribal members nationwide. It also expands care for Native American veterans.

The law has broad, bipartisan support in Congress.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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