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Udall on repeal of ACA and Medicaid expansion: 'Indian Country would be hit the hardest'
Udall opened the roundtable saying that he agreed with numerous Tribal leaders who are troubled that while
The roundtable was attended by
For years, the unofficial motto given to the underfunded
After the roundtable, Udall was joined on the
Udall said that nearly 287,000
"These aren't just numbers and statistics. We are talking about people's lives," Udall said, telling the story of Rachael, Justin, and their two young children, Adalie and Jude - a Native family from the Pueblo of
"But now, the Republican Leader and the president are moving in a... dangerous direction. They are pushing to repeal the ACA with no replacement, which would strip health care from over 30 million Americans," Udall continued. "It would devastate anyone who is sick today, anyone who relies on the insurance they get through Medicaid expansion or the ACA. And it sets up disaster for anyone who might get sick after repeal -- because it would destabilize insurance markets -- and it would throw our economy into turmoil, killing up to 50,000 jobs in
"And, as often happens with policies that hurt the most vulnerable, Indian Country would be hit the hardest," Udall said. "Traditionally, the
The full text of Udall's floor speech as prepared for delivery can be found below.
Mr. President, I rise with my colleagues from the
Most of us are aware of the health disparities facing Native communities. We have seen the news about the failings of the
But our trust responsibilities do not end there - the Medicaid and Medicare Program;
Each fiscal year, IHS receives a finite allocation of funding - discretionary funding - that it must stretch to meet the health care needs of 2.2 million
As a result, without additional resources, IHS is forced to ration care - limiting Native families to hospitals and clinics that can only provide "life and limb" emergency medical services. Basic preventive care like well-visits, prenatal exams, and mammograms have frequently been unavailable to most IHS patients.
"Don't get sick after June" - the unofficial motto given to the IHS on many reservations - has tragically become the epitaph of too many Tribal members whose cancer grew undetected, whose diabetes went untreated, and whose high-risk pregnancies went unnoticed.
Seeing this catastrophic need for health care dollars,
Thanks to Medicaid expansion and increased access to the individual insurance market, 63 percent of IHS patients have health care coverage that allows them to receive care above and beyond the level of "life and limb."
Because of the ACA, IHS now receives almost
We can see the results. Not only are people healthier. But they are more productive.
Health insurance has allowed
And, it has improved the economy in Indian Country. The ACA has created new health care jobs and led to the construction of new medical facilities. It has also meant dialysis clinics on
TrumpCare would undo this progress. It will undo the newly expanded access to care. It will shut down those new health facilities. It will freeze the economic progress of those areas.
These aren't just numbers and statistics. We are talking about people's lives. Individuals will be harmed by TrumpCare and the evisceration of Medicaid.
Let me tell you about Rachael, Justin, and their two young children, Adalie and Jude. They are one Native family whose lives have been changed for the better under the ACA and Medicaid expansion. Rachael and Justin are from the Pueblo of
Here's a photo of them from when right after Jude was born, in
Before the ACA and Medicaid expansion, Rachael received hit or miss care from IHS. But when she enrolled at the
Rachael's prenatal care became even more important when they decided to add to their family while Rachael was in graduate school at UNM. That pregnancy with Jude had serious complications. The doctors figured out that Rachael didn't have enough amniotic fluid to support Jude, and she had to have a C-section.
Medicaid expansion allowed Rachael to complete her college education and get her masters in public administration without worrying about health care for her and her children. Medicaid expansion meant Rachael was able to get the preventive care she needed to make sure she and Jude were healthy.
Rachael recently got a job offer to work in her chosen field. But, now that she's able to come off Medicaid, she's worried the Republican health care proposals will make insurance coverage ineffective or unaffordable. Even though she lives near her Tribe's IHS facility in the
So, once again, Rachael is worried about the future of her family's health care.
Rachael is one of thousands of
If this bill becomes law, Tribal communities will be forced back to a system of health care rationing. If the president and Republican leadership eviscerate the Medicaid program and federal supports for public health programs, Native American lives will be lost.
Let me say this plain and simple: TrumpCare would devastate Indian country, and must be stopped.
Just this morning, as vice chair of the Indian Affairs Committee, I held a roundtable with Tribal leaders and Native health experts to hear more about how
Their insight into the damage this bill could do to Native communities is profound.
And a representative from the
But now, the Republican leader and the president are moving in an even more dangerous direction.
They are pushing to repeal the ACA - with no replacement -- which would strip health care from over 30 million Americans. It would devastate anyone who is sick today, anyone who relies on the insurance they get through Medicaid expansion or the ACA. And it sets up disaster for anyone who might get sick after repeal because it would destabilize insurance markets. And it would throw our economy into turmoil -- killing up to 50,000 jobs in
And, as often happens with policies that hurt the most vulnerable, Indian Country would be hit the hardest.
Mr. President, I will end by asking that a copy of all the Tribal letters on TrumpCare shared with my Indian Affairs Committee office be entered into the record.
While this small effort cannot fully replace the necessary government-to-government consultation we owe Tribes on this issue, I hope it reminds us of our federal obligations to Tribes, and to all
TrumpCare would turn back the clock. It would violate our trust responsibilities. And it would endanger the lives of Native families. We cannot let that happen.