Indian Country politics and public policy

Commentary by Mark Trahant

For Immediate ReleaseNovember 2, 2015

Contact:

Rhonda Whiting

406-546-7907 ph

rwhiting@westernnativevoice.org

Expanded Medicaid Increases Healthcare for Native Americans

Billings, Mont. — The state recently approved to expand the Montana Medicaid program. This expansion is critical to addressing the healthcare disparity of Native Americans throughout the state.

The expanded Montana Medicaid program will provide coverage to nearly 20,000 American Indians throughout the state.

Western Native Voice, a grassroots organization focused on critical issues in Indian Country, was active in supporting the passage of legislation authorizing Governor Steve Bullock to submit a waiver to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). They organized tribal leaders and Indian people to testify and support HB405, legislation that created the Montana Health and Economic Livelihood Partnership Act that expands health care coverage to additional individuals, improves access to health care services and controls health care costs.

“There is nothing more significant to improving the health status of Indians in Montana than accessing healthcare through the Montana Medicaid program,” said Carol Juneau, Chairwoman of Western Native Voice. “This single action will save an entire generation of Indian people.”

Indians in Montana have a tremendous health disparity. Indian women die 20 years younger than non-Indian women and Indian men die 19 years younger than non-Indian men.

The healthcare coverage available through the Montana Medicaid program will allow for adult Indians to access basic healthcare including prevention services and diagnostic screenings.

Western Native Voice will continue to work with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services as the agency implements the waiver.

 

For more information about Western Native Voice, please visit the website http://www.WesternNativeVoice.org.

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