Navajo Nation to create its own managed health care entity in New Mexico

The Associated Press

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation is seeking become one of the first Native American tribes to create its own managed health care entity, the tribe recently announced. 

The tribe said it plans to contract with Molina Healthcare to work toward a managed health care offering under New Mexico's Centennial Care Medicaid program. 

Navajo Nation Counselor Daniel Tso, chair of the Health, Education and Human Services Committee, said the new entity "will be a one-of-a-kind medicaid program" designed to improve access and quality of health care on the largest Native American reservation.

Navajos access care at lower rates and experience worse outcomes when compared to the average Medicaid populations, Tso said. 

About 75,000 Navajos living in New Mexico are eligible for Medicaid.

Under provisions established by the federal government, each state is allowed to structure and tailor their Medicaid programs. In 2017, New Mexico's Medicaid program received approval by Centers for Medicaid and Medicare to collaborate with Indian Managed Care Entities, including a pilot project with the Navajo Nation. 

New Mexico state health officials estimated that the proposed entity could generate up to $468 million in annual payments to the Navajo Nation if 50,000 people enroll.