Monday was a key deadline for the Affordable Care Act. In order to begin insurance coverage on January 1, 2014, people were supposed to sign up by December 23, 2013, for that shiny new policy.
(On Monday the White House announced the deadline is extended a stay. That’s a good thing for people trying to navigate the web site at the last minute.)
How many American Indians and Alaska Natives signed up for this new program? Who knows? But you’d think that something this important would have so much information posted about that it would almost be annoying. There should be posters, flyers, signup fairs, reminders and banners. This should be a big deal.
Instead this deadline whizzed by, hardly making a sound in Indian Country.
So this is why the deadline, and health insurance, matters.
From this point forward every American Indian and Alaska Native who signs up for some form of insurance, through a tribe or an employer, via Medicaid, or through these new Marketplace Exchanges, adds real money to the Indian health system.
How much funding? Healthcare reform expert Ed Fox estimates the total could exceed $2 billion. But what makes that $2 billion even more important is that it does not need to be appropriated by Congress. (more…)