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Advocates say more can be done, but new program aims to boost tribal access to care

A recent initiative in Nevada aims to boost healthcare access for tribal communities, marking a significant milestone. However, advocates stress that more work is needed to ensure its success.

This program, a collaboration between tribes, insurers, and Nevada’s health insurance exchange, offers several key components. These include providing enrollment assistance for Nevada tribal members through the Nevada Health Link website, establishing a system for tribes to make single monthly payments to insurers (known as aggregated billing), and setting up a policy advocacy arm.

Despite these efforts, voluntary participation remains crucial due to the program’s status as a supplementary service under the Affordable Care Act. Currently, only one insurer on the exchange has agreed to participate in the aggregated billing component, posing a challenge for tribes across the state.

Advocates emphasize the importance of addressing health disparities in tribal communities. While the ACA has made strides in expanding healthcare options, data shows that enrollment rates among tribal members remain relatively low. Efforts to address these issues, such as the tribal sponsorship program, are seen as critical steps forward.

Advocates are also pushing for greater representation on the state’s health exchange board, highlighting the need for a dedicated tribal seat to ensure tribal voices are heard and needs are met.

Despite challenges, there’s optimism that ongoing efforts will lead to improved access to healthcare for tribal communities in Nevada. The goal is to remove barriers, provide education, and ultimately increase autonomy and self-sufficiency among tribes in accessing healthcare services.

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