Native Americans in Baucuscare


Montana has a large Native American population, and Max Baucus seems to be looking out for them in his draft legislation. The exciting Title G, Part X of his bill offers American Indians and Alaska Natives a number of juicy benefits. For example

— “The Chairman‘s Mark would prohibit cost-sharing (including premiums, deductibles, copayments, co-insurance, etc.) for all American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) with incomes at or below 300 percent of FPL for state exchange plans and public programs.”

— For individuals who are eligible for multiple kinds of public programs, Baucus would switch it away from Medicaid being “the payer of last resort” to a scenario in which “Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations (I/T/Us) are the payers of last resort.”

— What’s more “Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations would be added to the definition of an Express Lane Agency” for the purposes of determining CHIP and Medicaid eligibility, making it easier for Native Americans to claim benefits.

— One of the concessions Baucus got out of the Bush administration in exchange for backing the 2003 Medicare bill was that he “instituted a five-year expansion of the items and services covered under Medicare Part B when furnished in Indian hospitals and ambulatory care clinics, applying to items and services on or after January 1, 2005.” The new law would make sure that doesn’t sunset.

— Last, “The Chairman‘s Mark would subject AI/ANs to the responsibility to obtain insurance, but exempt them from the penalty for failing to do so.

Not the sort of thing likely to get much attention, but interesting nonetheless.