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North Dakota tribes support health care reform
16 September 2009

BISMARCK (UTN) - The five tribes of North Dakota are in support of the health care reform initiatives of President Barack Obama.

      The United Tribes of North Dakota Board passed a resolution September 10 urging significant health care reform during the current session of Congress.

      The action was passed unanimously by the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Spirit Lake Tribe, Standing Rock Tribe, Three Affiliated Tribes and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Two of the tribes, Sisseton and Standing Rock, are located in both North and South Dakota.

      The resolution called on members of the congressional delegations of both Dakotas to support meaningful health care reform.

      The President’s proposals will greatly assist Native Americans who do not have access to health care through the Indian Health Service (IHS), said the resolution.

      “Sixty percent of American Indians are now living off the reservation,” said David M. Gipp, United Tribes Technical College president. “Generally these people are not able to receive services from the IHS and are falling through the cracks when it comes to health care in America.”

      The resolution noted that the President’s health care initiatives should be in addition to his efforts to improve health care provided by the IHS.

      “Our population is typically at greater health risk for most all diseases and especially diabetes, heart disease and cancer,” said Myra Pearson, Spirit Lake Tribal Chair woman, Fort Totten, ND. “Our need for a better health care system is among the greatest of any population in the country.”

      The United Tribes resolution calls on lawmakers to ensure that a continuum of care would be in place for Native Americans between the IHS, public components of the reform legislation, and private health insurance.

      Native Americans should be exempt from any individual penalty requirements regarding health insurance that might otherwise be contained in health care reform because of the nation’s trust responsibilities in the treaties, the resolution said.

      The resolution was signed by Pearson, chair of the United Tribes board, and Marcus Levings, the board’s secretary/treasurer and chairman of Three Affiliated Tribes.

      Follow this link for a copy of the resolution.