January 2015 Blogs
All-Tribes Call Update
Yesterday, we held the IHS Monthly All-Tribes Call for January to provide an update on IHS and answer questions. The call was actually a webinar and we showed slides that summarized the FY 2015 appropriation for IHS. Here is a copy of the slides [PDF – 277KB] used in the presentation. We will soon send a notification of the date and time of the next call in February to Tribes.
Affordable Care Act Update
Here are some helpful resources on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The first document is the toolkit [PDF – 133KB] that was handed out at the White House Tribal Nations Conference that includes talking points for American Indians and Alaska Natives, a calendar of events, and some helpful resource links.
The ACA Health Insurance Marketplace enrollment period goes through February 15, 2015. While tribal members can enroll monthly throughout the year, for them and for everyone else who only has the opportunity to enroll until February 15 - the sooner you enroll, the sooner benefits are available. For more information on ACA benefits and enrollment, go to www.healthcare.gov.
All Americans need to have health insurance coverage each year or claim an exemption; otherwise they will have to pay a penalty, also called a shared responsibility payment, on their taxes. Tribal members and individuals eligible for IHS services can apply for an exemption from this requirement through an application on the Health Insurance Marketplace, or can claim it on their tax forms each year. The former process requires submitting documentation with an application on www.healthcare.gov, getting approved for the exemption, and getting a certificate number that you must put on your tax forms each year. The latter involves claiming the exemption on the tax form and keeping your documentation with your tax information in case you get audited in the future. There are also other exemptions available.
For those of you now getting ready to do your taxes for 2014, here are some resources:
Last week, HHS Secretary Burwell and Treasury Secretary Lew held a call with tax preparers. For information on their remarks, go to the press release.
I have attached the fact sheet included in this link [PDF – 123KB].
For individuals wanting to claim exemptions, including the exemptions for tribal members and those otherwise eligible for IHS services, I have also attached the tax form 8965 and its instructions [PDF – 294KB] just for your information. Part I is where you can put your certificate number if you already applied for a Marketplace exemption; Part III is where you can enter the code to claim your exemption on the tax form. The Instructions explain the exemptions available and how to claim them.
The purpose of this blog is to provide factual information, and not to give tax advice.Beyond this summary information, you should always consult the IRS or a tax advisor for your individual situation.
Affordable Care Act Update: Urban Indian Days of Action
The Indian Health Service has partnered with the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, the National Indian Health Board, the National Council of Urban Indian Health, and local Urban Indian and community organizations to organize four Urban Indian Days of Action for Affordable Care Act enrollment. These days of action will take place in select cities with large populations of Urban Indians. Each city will be hosting community events for individuals and families to learn about insurance options and receive free in-person assistance from trained enrollment assistors. The enrollment assistors will be available to answer questions, assist with enrollment in Medicaid or a Qualified Health Plan through the Marketplace, or assist with applying for the exemption from the shared responsibility payment. The assistors will have special training related to the Indian provisions in the Affordable Care Act.
The benefits available under the Affordable Care Act to American Indians and Alaska Natives are especially important to Urban Indian consumers who may live too far away to receive care from their Tribe’s hospital or clinic. They also may not be eligible to receive any purchased/referred care due to not living within the Purchased/Referred Care Service Delivery Area. The Marketplace offers an opportunity for Urban Indian consumers to obtain a plan that will allow them to receive care from local providers.Depending on their income, they may qualify for Medicaid or a zero or low cost plan through the Marketplace.
The select cities that will be hosting events include Dallas on January 16, Salt Lake City on January 20, Chicago on January 27-28, and Houston on February 5. Please see the IHS Affordable Care Act page for specific details for each of these events.
Medicare-like Rates NPRM Update
Based on tribal input, IHS posted a notice in the Federal Register today that we are extending the comment period for the IHS Medicare-like Rates Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for 15 days, so comments are now due by February 4, 2015. For more information, see my blog post from when the original notice was posted on 12/5/2014.
IHS Joint Venture Construction Program Update
The Indian Health Service (IHS) has completed the final phase of the IHS Joint Venture Construction Program (JVCP) solicitation initiated on August 1, 2014. The IHS JVCP is a partnership in which a Tribe pays for the construction of a health facility and IHS agrees to request additional staffing for the facility from Congress once the facility is completed. Timing and availability of appropriations are key considerations for this program and determine the number of applicants that can be approved to move forward. This round of applications was highly competitive. From the initial 37 pre-applicants, 13 were selected to submit a more comprehensive final application for further review and ranking by a panel comprised of tribal and federal personnel.
IHS has selected the top seven applicants to move forward, and the remaining six applicants will be considered as alternates to the top seven in the event that circumstances change and impact the final execution of a JVCP agreement. IHS will notify each applicant individually of their final ranking. Then at certain intervals, the top seven will receive a specific notice to proceed with preparation and submission of planning documents to the IHS in order to enter into a JVCP agreement with the agency. The number of agreements to be executed each year will depend upon construction schedules and the projected budget environment. In recent years, two to three applicants each year have been notified to proceed. As JVCP agreements are signed, we will work with the applicant on a formal public announcement.
Thank you to all of the Tribes and tribal organizations that submitted applications in the interest of partnering with the IHS in improving access to health care for American Indian and Alaska Native people. The IHS anticipates another JVCP solicitation will occur in 3-5 years.
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