Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), along with Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), today announced the introduction of legislation to protect Native American tribes from the Affordable Care Act’s costly employer mandate. The Tribal Employment and Jobs Protection Act, which was introduced today in the Senate and House, will exempt tribes and tribal employers from Obamacare’s employer mandate. This legislation would prevent massive fines that tribal employers would incur under Obamacare’s employer mandate.
“The employer mandate within the President’s health care law is unaffordable for South Dakota tribes. Moreover, it is unnecessary, given the federal government already has the responsibility of providing healthcare for tribal members,” said Noem. “Without the relief granted by the Tribal Employment and Jobs Protection Act, tribal governments could be required to cut important services while tribally-owned businesses could be forced to cut jobs. I’m hopeful this burden created by an ill-constructed law can soon be lifted.”
“While I believe all Americans should receive an exemption from Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, it seems illogical that Obamacare exempts members of federally recognized tribes from the individual mandate’s penalty, but requires tribal governments to comply with the law’s employer mandate,” said Thune. “In South Dakota, tribes often serve as the primary employer of their community members. This mandate would have a significant negative impact on tribes and tribal citizens by diverting much-needed valuable resources away from economic development and important programs toward this burdensome law.”
South Dakota’s Rosebud Sioux Tribe has endorsed the Tribal Employment and Jobs Protection Act, saying: “Forced compliance with the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment provision … could prove to be financially devastating for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. With over 800 employees, estimates show that compliance with this mandate could possibly cost the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in excess of six million dollars annually…. Passage of the Tribal Employment and Jobs Protection Act will provide the Rosebud Sioux Tribe with relief from this financially debilitating provision of the Affordable Care Act. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe fully supports and humbly requests support from members of the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate in passage of the Tribal Employment and Jobs Protection Act.” To view a fully copy of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe statement, please click here.
Additionally, National Indian Health Board Executive Director Stacy A. Bohlen said, “On behalf of the 567 federally-recognized Tribes we serve, I am excited to see this vital piece of legislation introduced. The federal trust responsibility to the Tribes requires the federal government to provide healthcare for American Indians and Alaska Natives. The Employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act is simply unaffordable for many Tribes who will cut essential government services to pay this obligation. The employer mandate on Tribal employers contradicts not only the trust responsibility, but provisions in the Affordable Care Act which exempt American Indians and Alaska Natives from the individual mandate. Thank you to Senator Daines and Congresswoman Noem for introducing this critical bill.”
The legislation is also supported by the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, which represents tribes in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa. You may view their resolution here.
The full text of the legislation can be found here.