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News Release

National Indian Health Board

On September 18 during the second plenary session of the National Indian Health Board’s (NIHB) annual National Tribal Health Conference, attendees heard from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) about three main areas of the agency’s work with tribes – enrolling more American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) in Medicaid, educating tribal citizens about coverage benefits and increasing third-party revenue for the Indian health system through Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services reimbursements.

“Many of our tribal citizens are eligible to receive health care through the Medicaid system, and the tribes’ partnership with Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services is critical as the agency contributes significantly to the delivery of health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives,” said National Indian Health Board Chair and Great Plains Area Representative Victoria Kitcheyan. 

Nearly one million American Indians and Alaska Natives are enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and many more are eligible through Medicaid Expansion – a key piece of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The CMS Division of Tribal Affairs works closely with tribes and tribal organizations to ensure special protections and exemptions for the American Indian and Alaska Native population are protected, supported and implemented.

Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services Division of Tribal Affairs Director Kitty Marx reaffirmed that the agency is committed to working with Tribes to make sure the trust responsibility is upheld and that more Tribal citizens have health care coverage.

“The ability for our tribal clinics to bill and receive reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid is a true exercise of sovereignty, self-governance and an example of a federal agency living up to its trust responsibility,” said National Indian Health Board Chair Kitcheyan.

Ms. Marx also informed attendees that Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services is continuing its outreach and education efforts to get more tribal citizens enrolled in Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP or in a Marketplace plan. Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services has about $168 million for Marketplace enrollment campaigns and $6 million is earmarked to assist the Indian Health Service, Tribes and urban Indian entities in their targeted outreach campaigns. Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services is actively reaching out to tribal communities through newsletters, radio ads in Native languages and a website filled with downloadable and customizable resources. Ms. Marx added that Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services works closely with its Tribal Technical Advisory Group (TTAG) to reach eligible tribal citizens.

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Tribal health experts and advocates, who are also part of Tribal Technical Advisory Group, shared about their struggles with state Medicaid programs in a panel discussion called “Medicaid: Threats and Opportunities.” Panelists said their Tribes’ challenges included state Medicaid waiver proposals that would impose work requirements for Medicaid eligibility and reimbursements.

“As tribal health experts and advocates, we see there are some policy and programmatic developments that pose risk to our system. But there are also opportunities for greater exercise of self-determination, new ways of envisioning the work and ways to spark Tribal innovation. Even in the challenges we face in our engagement with our state counterparts, we have seen models of best practices emerge,” said National Indian Health Board Chair Kitcheyan.  

Conference attendees also learned about other Tribes’ successes and challenges with two health programs critical to the access and delivery of health care to tribal communities – these are the Community Health Representative (CHR) and Community Health Aide Program (CHAP).

National Indian Health Board’s annual National Tribal Health Conference concluded tyesterday with a closing plenary session that celebrates the 15 year anniversary of the Dental Health Aide Therapy program. Learn more about the conference at:

Social media information:

  • Facebook: /NIHB1972
  • Twitter: @NIHB1
  • Hashtags: #NIHB #NTHC2019 #healthytribalcommunities #IndianCountry #Nativehealth

About the National Indian Health Board

Founded in 1972, National Indian Health Board is a 501(c) 3 not for profit, charitable organization providing health care advocacy services, facilitating Tribal budget consultation and providing timely information, and other services to all Tribal governments. National Indian Health Board also conducts research, provides policy analysis, program assessment and development, national and regional meeting planning, training, technical assistance, program and project management. National Indian Health Board presents the Tribal perspective while monitoring, reporting on and responding to federal legislation and regulations. It also serves as conduit to open opportunities for the advancement of American Indian and Alaska Native health care with other national and international organizations, foundations corporations and others in its quest to build support for, and advance, Indian health care issues.