Native Sovereignty compromise in Arizona – Trump Administration provides waiver to Medicaid work requirements

For the past year, a major threat against Native Sovereignty has cast a dark shadow across all Native Nations throughout the country. Today, an article in Politico indicates at least for Tribal Governments in the State of Arizona, some comfort was received, but only for those enrolled members of federally recognized tribes.

A year ago when the Trump Administration rolled out work requirements for States and Medicaid, an infringement on Native Sovereignty suddenly emerged, and when the White House sought to re-classify sovereign Tribal Governments instead as a racial group, it turned back the clock for Native Nations across the country. The article in Politico mentions GOP lawmakers in many rural states were alarmed at what was rolling back hundreds of years of protections by the Constitution and what has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Tribal Governments were taken by surprise.

Today the State of Arizona was granted a waiver, and Arizona’s Native American tribal members are exempt in the majority of situations. Because not everyone treated at IHS is an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe, those who are not enrolled are unfortunately not exempt from these work requirements.

Politico reports in their article (Trump Exempts Most Tribes From Medicaid Work Rules):

Under the Arizona waiver approved Friday, Medicaid enrollees between the ages of 19 and 49 who are not exempt will have to work at least 80 hours per month — or participate in other activities like job training or community service — to maintain their health coverage. The administration and state officials had been negotiating for months over the plan.

This is recognized as not being a perfect solution for Arizona, but it is a compromise which does restore services to enrolled members, and re-establish the Sovereignty of their Tribal Governments.

This may also open the door for other States to follow suit, and if so would bring some level of comfort that this threat to Native Sovereignty has, for now, been abated.

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