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Supreme Court rules in favor of tribal nations administering health care programs

Supreme Court of the United States
Ian Hutchinson
Supreme Court of the United States

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court sided with the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona and the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming.

The ruling, delivered on Thursday, makes the government responsible for overhead costs associated with billing insurance companies.

John Echohawk, Pawnee attorney and Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund, noted the decision’s importance, which “honors Congress’ commitment to Tribal Nations’ rights to self-determination.”

The court ultimately affirmed the 1975 Indian Self-Determination Act, ensuring tribes have the support to run healthcare programs on equal footing as the Indian Health Service.

This move comes at a financial cost, potentially ranging between $800 million and $2 billion annually, according to the government.

The two tribes involved in the case said the government underpaid them by about 4.5 million over two- to three-year contracts.

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Sarah Liese reports on Indigenous Affairs for KOSU.
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