Indian Health Service

I want to be accurate, I truly do. Below I took issue with the following statement from a Tribune editorial earlier this week: "Access to and availability of health care for the first citizens of this nation, Native Americans, was a trust contract solidified in the Constitution in 1787. That's a given."

I still maintain that there was no "contract solidified in the Constitution" whereby the US promised to give Native Americans free health care forever.

In the interest of further consideration, though, I note that a friend sent me the following information from an Indian Health Service fact sheet:

Federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaska Native corporations enjoy a government-to-government relationship with the United States of America. This
unique relationship is based on Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution and has been given substance through numerous Supreme Court decisions, treaties, legislation, and Executive Orders.

The provision of health services grew out of this government-to-government relationship. The IHS is the principal federal health care provider and health advocate for Indian people.

The principal legislation authorizing federal funds for health services to recognized Indian tribes is the Snyder Act of 1921. It authorized funds"...for the relief of distress and conservation of health... [and] for the employment of...physicians...for Indian tribes throughout the United States."

Congress passed the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act(Public Law 93-638, as amended) to provide tribes the option of assuming from the IHS the administration and operation of health services and programs in their communities, or to remain within the IHS direct health system. Congress consequently passed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act(Public Law 94-437) that is a health specific law that supports the options of P.L. 93-638. The goal of P.L. 94-437 is to provide the quantity and quality of health services necessary to elevate the health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest possible level and to encourage the maximum participation of tribes in the planning and management of those services.

Offered in the interest of full disclosure.


Treasure State Jew said...

OK, I am no lawyer (thank Hashem).

However, the section given seems to be a stretch. Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 3 states:

"[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribles;"

From that, we have a contract?


GeeGuy said...

I'm with you, TSJ, but I can see how the Supreme Court over the years might have used that section as authority to extend obligations to the Tribes (you know, a "living constitution" and all that...).

I don't think it offers support for the Tribune editorial board's position, though.