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10 bipartisan senators push back on Medicaid work requirements for Native Americans

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A bipartisan group of senators is pushing for the Trump administration to grant exemptions to Native Americans from states’ plans to implement work requirements for Medicaid.

Politico reported Friday that 10 senators signed onto a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar calling for him to grant the exemptions.

The Trump administration has failed “to recognize the unique legal status of Indian tribes and their members under federal law, the U.S. Constitution, treaties, and the federal trust relationship,” the letter reads.

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Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.) and Tina Smith (Minn.) all signed the letter.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was the only GOP senator to sign the letter.

The senators also noted that “federal classifications fulfilling federal obligations to Indians are not based on race but instead on a political relationship between the tribes and the federal government.”

The letter called the move “potentially devastating” for tribes’ access to health care.

HHS had rejected a request by Native American tribes to be exempted from the work requirements in January.

“HHS believes that such an exemption would raise constitutional and federal civil rights law concerns,” an HHS spokesperson told Politico.

The Trump administration has approved waivers to implement work requirements for Medicaid in three states. Seven other states have also requested approval for the requirements.

Tags Catherine Cortez Masto Charles Schumer Elizabeth Warren Heidi Heitkamp Jeff Merkley Lisa Murkowski Maria Cantwell Martin Heinrich Medicaid work requirements Native Americans Tina Smith Tom Udall
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