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Report: Health Coverage is Not “Native” in NV

April 9, 2007


Children in Nevada, and especially those on Indian reservations, are among the hardest hit in the ongoing slide in healthcare coverage. A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that Native Americans are seeing the most drastic rise in the numbers of uninsured. National Indian Health Board director Stacy Bohlen says there are misplaced priorities in the nation’s healthcare investments.

"Federal prisoners’ healthcare is supported at twice the economic level as American Indians, who ceded their lands for the promise of healthcare."

Bohlen notes one proposal being considered by Congress would get more coverage to more Native American children: the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

"That law is the basis of the entire Indian healthcare system and it has not been modernized in 13 years. That law, if it’s enacted, would enhance the health care for children immensely."

Congress is considering the “All Healthy Children Act” which would automatically enroll children for health insurance coverage, streamline applications, and merge Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP).

Ninety percent of uninsured kids live in families where parents are working, according to the Children’s Defense Fund. Nancy Whitman is with Nevada Covering Kids and Families.

"Many times, a parent is forced to make a decision as to whether or not to put food in the refrigerator, or pay the rent, instead of accessing health care."

Whitman also points out that nearly 18 percent of children under the age of five don’t have health insurance. She emphasizes that’s a critical period for good health, because of the rate of brain and physical development.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study can be found at: www.rwjf.org/files/publications/other/shadacschip07.pdf.

Information on the "All Healthy Children Act" is online at www.childrensdefense.org.

Charles Lane/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NV