As we know Tribes have increased their resource base over the last 20 years. However, structural poverty still remains for many Tribal communities. Now the government is doing their utmost to eliminate the safety net the most vulnerable of our Tribal citizens have had. Some of the most recent changes that will impact and increase the number who are in poverty are the requirement to have those on Medicaid drug tested to determine if they are eligible for the program. While this won’t prevent the person from receiving services from IHS it will decrease the amount of third party revenues that Tribal health programs receive which will affect the quality of care. How many will be affected by this major change is yet to be determined but it will be a significant number.
The SNAP program will is proposed to be eliminated which provides food stamps to many of our people who qualify under current poverty guidelines. This will be a major setback for many families who are barely surviving as is. As we know from Maslow’s hierarchy if you don’t meet the basic needs of people they never have the motivation or the means to escape their poverty conditions.
And then the government is proposing to reorganize two federal agencies which are the Labor Department and the Education Department. For those who receiving employment training services this could have major ramifications. While reorganization can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of a program or programs if it is not well thought out it can cause more harm than good. Another reorganization effort that will impact many of our people is the one to regarding the Bureau of Indian Affairs. As we all know this definitely has room for improvement but the proposed changes now were done prior to consulting with Tribes and may only create more chaos for the agency.
Tribes will have to use all available resources to support those who are in greatest need. We also all need to be more politically engaged at a local, state and federal level to make sure our priorities are met and that we do everything we can to support those who have the greatest need.