‘Morally appalling, deliberately misleading’
Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle), Chair of the Council’s Civic Assets, Public Development and Native Communities Committee, issued the following statement after a story published by Politico April 22 said the Trump administration contends tribes are a “…race rather than separate governments,” and exempting them from Medicaid work rules would be illegal preferential treatment.
Councilmember Juarez and her colleagues sent a letter to Governor Jay Inslee and Washington State’s congressional delegation in response to Trump’s new policy.
“I find it morally appalling and deliberately misleading that the Trump administration maintains tribes are a race and not sovereign governments.
“Native American communities have an unemployment rate three times higher than the U.S. average. Denying unemployed Native Americans access to Medicaid would devastate a population that already disproportionately suffers from high rates of obesity, diabetes, teen pregnancy, mental health issues and drug problems.
“Without those Medicaid dollars, the Indian Health System, which is already underfunded, would be negatively impacted; and, may very well be the end-goal of President Trump.
“In fact, W. Ron Allen, Chair of the Tribal Technical Advisory Group, said in a Feb. 14 letter to Health and Human Services Administrator Seema Verma that without supplemental Medicaid resources, the Indian Health System will not survive. Knowing this calls into question the motivation behind Trump’s action.
“Tribal governments are tired of the Trump administration’s continued attacks on tribal healthcare. As the Politico story outlines, the Trump administration proposed significant cuts to the Indian health Service’s budget and tried to cut the Community Health Representative program, an essential service connecting tribal communities with primary health care services.
“As an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation, and chair of the Civic Assets, Public Development and Native Communities Committee, I stand with tribal governments and demand the Health and Human Services Department exempt tribal members from Medicaid’s work rules.”