Skip to main content

Trahant: GOP Congress Threatens Indian Health Care

  • Author:
  • Updated:

“Will Republicans muster enough votes to repeal the health care bill?” posed Mark Trahant, writer and Shoshone-Bannock Tribes member, on

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Michigan, said on Fox News Sunday that “significant” bipartisan support could overthrow the bill and override a presidential veto, requiring two-third majority vote in both the House and Senate – a near impossible feat in Washington D.C., Trahant said.

“If we pass this bill with a size-able vote, and I think that we will, it will put enormous pressure on the Senate to do the same thing,” Upton said on Fox News.

The Republican strategy, according to Trahant, is to “investigate, repeal sections and refuse to limit the money needed to implement the law.”

“The so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has been widely criticized by the American public, and for good reason,” Upton wrote last month. “... Real oversight is needed, and the Energy and Commerce Committee will work closely with other committees of jurisdiction to reveal, repeal and replace this law.”

Suddenly Indian health care has reached the forefront. “Too bad there’s not that same passion for oversight when it comes to the historical underfunding for Indian health programs.”

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Trahant doubts the Republican investigations will even consider American Indian and Alaska Native health or the drastic impact of the sudden removal of health care within Indian Country.

Even Republicans, such as New South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem, with districts with large numbers of American Indian or Alaska Native voters “say they don’t like and will vote to repeal the health care reform law, but they do like the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.”

Trahant points out that their “logic is flawed: if there is a repeal of the health care reform bill, there also will be a repeal of the ‘permanent’ status found in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. The two laws are one.”

While there is no way to repeal health care reform except for the Indian health care provisions, according to Trahant, he fears the new Republican majority will deny stable funding for the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. “The law is only an authorization to spend money -- it must be implemented by an appropriations from Congress, Trahant wrote.

Republicans could creating a powerful budget post, capping federal spending, under Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin – who also called for abolishing Medicare for those under 55 as well as the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid. Some Republic congressmen have promised to roll back spending as much as 20 percent, Trahat wrote.

“Imagine the impact on an already starved Indian health system.”