Tribal Council Chairperson Kara Miller and Council Secretary Loren Bommelyn attended The White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington D.C. in December 2014. Leaders from the 566 federally-recognized Native nations engaged with the President, Cabinet Officials, and the White House Council on Native American Affairs on key issues facing tribes including respecting tribal sovereignty and upholding treaty and trust responsibilities, lack of access to capital and credit, and protection Native women and youth.
Nearly half of Native American people (42 percent) are under the age of 24; more than one-third of Native children live in poverty; and Native youth have the lowest high school graduation rate of students across all schools. As part of the Conference, the White House will release a new Native Youth Report that explores the challenges facing Native youth and makes recommendations for a path forward. For the first time in these Conferences, the voice of Native youth will be represented by 36 White House Youth Ambassadors, who will join tribal leaders in the breakout sessions and panels, and participating in leadership development programming.
President Obama will also announce the launch of Generation Indigenous (Gen I), a Native youth initiative focused on removing the barriers that stand between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed. This initiative will take a comprehensive, culturally appropriate approach to help improve the lives and opportunities for Native youth.
Healthcare was another major topic at the conference. Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to
announce the publication of a proposed rule for Medicare like rates for Indian Health Service (IHS) payments for purchased/referred care for non-hospital based and provider services. Additionally, HHS/CMS and Treasury/IRS have developed a new streamlined process for American Indian and Alaska Native citizens and family members who are eligible for health services from an Indian health-care provider to claim an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s individual shared responsibility payment through the tax filing process. CMS also issued approximately $4 million for Connecting Kids to Coverage American Indian and Alaska Native Grants to increase participation in Medicaid and CHIP. In November, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced new flexibility concerning the participation of tribal employers that will make it easier for them to enroll their employees in the FEHB Program.