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Tribal Health Board CEO: Repeal Of ACA Hurts Tribes

Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board

U.S. Senator John Thune says he’s in favor of an effort to repeal part of the Affordable Care Act now making its way through congress. The move fulfills a promise made by many in the GOP to see the act removed.   But, President Obama is expected to veto any repeal effort.    

Some in South Dakota worry repealing the act would hurt Native Americans and those in the state who lack adequate health care coverage.

Thune says the Affordable Care Act has failed.   He supports repealing a number of provisions within the act.

“The law was sold as a health care solution but it’s turned out to be yet another healthcare problem.  And, I’ve heard from countless South Dakotan’s over the last five-and-a-half years about the damage that’s been caused by this fundamentally flawed law,” says Thune.

Thune says the repeal making its way through the Senate would not impact efforts to improve funding for Indian Health Service.  But others say the Affordable Care Act is crucial for Indian Country.   Jerilyn Church is the CEO for the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board.  She says throwing out the Affordable Care Act now does more harm than good.

“There is room for improvement, certainly.  But I think those are issues that can be worked through and addressed.   I trust that lawmakers can come together to identify areas that need improvement but still really utilize the ACA for the betterment of everyone’s health,” says Church.

The bill before the Senate phases out the expansion of Medicaid taken on by some states under the ACA.   Senator Thune says expanded Medicaid would be replaced with a different program giving states more flexibility.   But Jerilyn Church says expanding Medicaid in states like South Dakota helps Native people meet healthcare needs.