Navajo Nation May Use ObamaCare to Get Same Medicaid Authority As States


The Navajo Nation is conducting a "Medicaid feasibility study" to see if it can get Medicaid reimbursements from the federal government.

The Obama Administration's Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows tribes to explore more healthcare options for its citizens. "ObamaCare" provides tribes with state-based health exchanges, no cost-sharing or co-payments, tax incentives, expansion, and most of all reimbursements from third parties, according to an ACA fact sheet.

The Nation would have the same authority as state plans under title XIX of the Social Security Act, states a Cornell University Law School case study. Essentially, the Navajo Nation, which spans across portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, would become the 51st Medicaid state, reported KNAU Arizona Public Radio.

While Medicaid services could significantly benefit some Navajo members, the paperwork would be tedious, said Eric Henley, the chief medical officer for North Country HealthCare in Flagstaff, Arizona. The health center serves many Medicaid and uninsured patients, many of them Navajo, Henley noted. "It’s complicated," Henley told the radio station. "You have to manage the money, decide what codes. You have to pay bills based on certain codes. You have to negotiate rates. You know, not a walk in the park."

The tribe is completing its Medicaid feasibility study, and will send it to Congress for approval, which is expected in March, reported The Navajo Post.