Governor Jay Inslee signed the Indian Health Improvement Act, Tuesday in Olympia.

OLYMPIA - Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law, Tuesday, an act aimed at using a federal Medicare and Medicaid policy update from 2016 to work toward improving the healthcare provided to the states’ first peoples.

The 2016 Medicaid and Medicare policy update presented the state the opportunity to shift much of the cost of care for tribal members enrolled in Medicaid from the state general fund to the federal government.

To incentive tribes to take on some duties, The Indian Health Improvement Act will create a governor’s Indian Health Advisory Council, adopt a Indian Health Improvement Advisory plan and reinvest the state’s savings from the change into newly established fund “to be spent only on costs for projects, programs or activities identified in the advisory plan.”

The governor’s advisory council would be include one representative from each of Washington’s 29 tribes and the CEO of each urban Indian organization among others.

Sen. John McCoy, 38th-D, sponsored the bill in the Senate, and Rep. Steve Theringer, 24th-D, sponsored a companion bill in the House.

In a legislative update published by Tribal Tribune in early April, Colville Business Council chair Rodney Cawston wrote that the bill “seeks to maximize to 100% the Federal Matching Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for Medicaid services received by American Indians/Alaska Natives enrolled in Medicaid’s Fee for Service (FFS) program and who are being served by Tribal Clinics.  Andy Joseph and Norma Sanchez testified/lobbied this bill at the Senate Committee on Health & Long Term Care Committee Hearing.”

CBC member Janet Nicholson attended the signing ceremony.

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