IHS prepares for Affordable Care Act implementation

Source: Native American Times

On Aug. 13-15, the Indian Health Service held an Indian Health Partnerships Conference in Denver to train key health system staff on Affordable Care Act implementation requirements, including the new Health Insurance Marketplace, and the impact on the provision of health care services to American Indian and Alaska Native people.

“The theme of this conference, ‘Partnerships 2013: Accessing Health Care through the Affordable Care Act,’ exemplifies the Agency’s commitment to ensuring that we are well prepared for the future of health care and the new opportunities available to federal, tribal, and urban beneficiaries,” said Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, acting director of the IHS.

For American Indians and Alaska Natives, the ACA will help address health disparities, increase access to affordable health coverage, and invest in prevention and wellness. The ACA will offer many uninsured American Indians and Alaska Natives an opportunity to purchase quality, affordable health insurance coverage or to enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program through the health insurance market. By filling out one simple application, many will learn that they qualify for financial assistance either through tax credits to purchase coverage in the market, reductions in cost-sharing that will reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket costs, or through enrollment in CHIP or Medicaid, if their state expands eligibility. Natives will also have access to enrollment periods outside the yearly open enrollment period and can continue to get services from tribal health programs, urban Indian health programs, or IHS if they enroll in a health insurance plan through the market.

Starting Oct. 1, a market will be open in every state, providing millions of Americans and small businesses with “one-stop shopping” for affordable health insurance coverage that can begin as soon as Jan. 1. The Indian Health Partnerships Conference provided an opportunity to encourage both members of tribal communities and health care professionals working with tribes to educate others about coverage opportunities.