Report: Senate Republican Health Bill Would Harm Kansas’ Tribal Communities

Today, a new report shows that the Senate health care plan, Better Care Reconciliation (BCRA), will harm Kansas’ tribal communities.  More details are below:


Senate Republican Health Bill Would Harm Kansas’ Tribal Communities 

[Topkea, KS] – By slashing Medicaid and making marketplace coverage unaffordable, the Senate Republican health bill would have devastating consequences for Kansas American Indians. The uninsured rate among American Indians in Kansas would jump by 27.4% under the bill, according to a new report from the Washington, DC-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“The Senate Republican health bill would be devastating to American Indians in Kansas,” said David Jordan, Executive Director of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas. “Our tribal communities already face serious challenges – high rates of poverty, barriers to getting needed health care, and more. A bill that makes things worse is unacceptable.”

The Senate bill would:

  • dramatically cap and cut Medicaid, likely forcing states to cut eligibility, benefits and provider rates. An exemption in the bill makes it appear that American Indians would be unaffected by this change, but make no mistake: no one is safe from these cuts as they would apply to Kansas’ entire Medicaid program. Kansas would likely be forced to cut Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) which allow seniors and people with disabilities to live at home rather than in an institution. This would hit American Indians hard as they are among the fastest aging populations.
  • eliminate subsidies, known as cost-sharing reductions, that help low-income Kansas, including 840 American Indians, afford out-of-pocket health costs like copays and deductibles. At the same time, it would cut tax credits that help American Indians afford premiums for coverage they purchase in Kansas’ health care marketplace.

The Senate bill would not only affect coverage for Kansas’ American Indians, but also would weaken Indian Health Service (IHS) and Tribal facilities, for which Medicaid is a key source of financing. The bill’s Medicaid cuts would take needed revenue from IHS and Tribal facilities, forcing them to ration care, as they did before the Affordable Care Act, due to high numbers of uninsured American Indians and limited funding.

American Indians and Alaska Natives face persistent health disparities, including a high uninsurance rate, barriers to accessing care, and significant physical and mental health needs.  Like many other groups, American Indians and Alaska Natives have benefited greatly from the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions.  Nationally, the uninsured rate among American Indians and Alaska Natives has fallen by more than a quarter, from 29 percent in 2010 to 21 percent in 2015. The Senate Republican health bill would reverse these gains.

“There are many opportunities for Congress to improve our health care system,” said David Jordan.  “But this bill can’t be fixed: the Senate needs to start over and take a different, bipartisan approach.”

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