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October 1, 2014

IHS eligible individuals will be able to claim exemption through tax filing process


Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced last week that individuals eligible to receive health care from an Indian Health Service (IHS), tribal, or urban Indian health program provider will be able to claim an exemption from the shared responsibility payment through the tax filing process starting with the 2014 tax year. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury Department intend to publish guidance later this year confirming that individuals who are eligible for this exemption may claim it through the tax filing process.

This benefit gives individuals who are eligible to receive services from an Indian health care provider, including the IHS, the same filing option as members of federally recognized tribes (including Alaska Native shareholders). Both groups will continue to have the option of submitting the exemption application through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Prior to this week’s announcement, exemptions were available both to individuals who were members of a federally recognized tribe and to individuals who are eligible to receive services from an Indian health care provider. But members of a tribe were able to claim an exemption through the federal tax filing process, while individuals who are eligible to receive services from an Indian health care provider were required to obtain this exemption through the Health Insurance Marketplace by filing a paper application.

The availability of the online tax filing process to apply for the Indian health care exemption will save time and reduce duplication of effort. Individuals intending to claim this exemption through the tax filing process should retain the same documentation that they would otherwise submit to the Marketplace as part of their exemption application.

Secretary Burwell first announced this updated rule at the Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee meeting on September 18, 2014. This simplified process for claiming the exemption through the tax filing process was initiated based on requests by tribal leaders. The IHS worked closely with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the IRS to extend these options to individuals eligible to receive services from an Indian health care provider.

The IHS, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.


September 24, 2014

New Health Coverage Options for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Posted September 9, 2014
By Jace Killsback

As the tribal health administrator for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana, it’s important to practice what you preach. And that’s especially important when it comes to health insurance.

This hit home for me earlier this year when my wife Emily suffered a gallstone attack. We rely on the Indian Health Service for our care, and while they do a great job, her surgery needed to be done at a hospital in Billings.

It brought to our attention the need for health insurance, so I enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. I selected a plan that with tax credits costs $155 a month for our household of five.

I signed up for a plan in March and made my first premium payment in April. I was worried at first about possibly missing the open enrollment deadline, but I learned that members of federally recognized tribes can enroll through the Marketplace at any time.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and our new health insurance, we can go directly to a doctor or hospital off the reservation. Or if we go to the IHS clinic on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, our private insurance will compensate the clinic for that care, which brings in resources to our local IHS service unit.

The Marketplace is a huge benefit for Indian Country. I believe this opportunity for my people to have quality, affordable health insurance will give them not just a sense of pride, but also help them feel more connected to the community knowing that their health care needs are being met.

By getting covered through the Marketplace, I know my family and I are protected.  We can keep up to date on our health screenings and checkups and we have an easier time trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

You can find out about your options at or contact the Marketplace Call Center at any time, day or night, to apply by phone. Call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).

If you already have insurance, check out these resources to help you make the most of your health coverage.

Content last reviewed on September 9, 2014

September 9, 2014

CMS Releases Assister Training Instructions: A Guide to Access and Complete the Assister Training for the Federally-facilitated Marketplace Now Available

Read the Assister Training Instructions Guide at:

September 9, 2014

HHS announces $60 million to help consumers navigate their health care coverage options in the Health Insurance Marketplace

The Affordable Care Act is working for millions of Americans who are able to access quality health coverage at a price they can afford, in large part because of the efforts of in-person assisters in local communities across the nation.  People shopping for and enrolling in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace can get local help in a number of ways, including through Navigators.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell today announced $60 million in Navigator grant awards to 90 organizations in states with federally-facilitated and state partnership Marketplaces.  These awards support preparation and outreach activities in year two of Marketplace enrollment and build on lessons learned from last year.

“In-person assisters have an impact on the lives of so many Americans, helping individuals and families across the country access quality, affordable health coverage,” said Secretary Burwell.  “We are committed to helping Americans get covered and stay covered with in-person assistance in their own communities.”

According to a recent outside survey, a variety of assisters, including Navigators, in both state-based and federally-facilitated Marketplaces were responsible for helping an estimated 10.6 million consumers apply for coverage in Marketplace plans, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) during the first Open Enrollment period.  Assisters tend to help those consumers in communities with the most challenging or complicated enrollments, and according to another poll, Latinos in particular valued the assistance of in-person help.  Navigators provide unbiased information to consumers about the Marketplace and other public programs in a way that recognizes the cultures of the communities they serve. Navigators were selected to receive these awards through a competitive grant process based on their ties with the communities they will be serving and other standards such as effectiveness and program integrity.

In addition to helping eligible individuals and their families enroll in coverage, Navigators help consumers compare their health coverage options including helping them determine whether they are eligible for public programs such as Medicaid and CHIP and guide consumers- many of whom have never had insurance before- on accessing and using their new coverage, among other important functions.

These awards build on lessons learned from the first year of Marketplace operations.

  • Navigator grantees must maintain a physical presence in the Marketplace service-area, so that consumers can easily access face-to-face assistance.
  • Navigator grantees are required to be trained on and comply with strict security and privacy standards to ensure that consumers’ personally identifiable information (PII) is protected, as was the case last year. In no case will Navigators obtain a consumer’s PII without the consumer’s consent.
  • In addition to quarterly and annual reporting, Navigators will also be required to submit to HHS weekly progress reports detailing their progress and activities in the communities they serve.
  • Based on feedback from the assister community, HHS is incorporating new elements into this year’s required training, such as a course on advanced Marketplace issues with detailed information on topics such as how to help college-age students enroll in coverage and re-enrollment.  HHS is committed to providing Navigators with on-going technical assistance and training opportunities throughout the year.

In addition to Navigators, Marketplaces make other resources available to consumers to help them access Marketplace coverage, such as certified application counselors, non-navigator assistance personnel (also known as in-person assisters), and agents and brokers. Consumers in federally-facilitated and state partnership Marketplaces can visit Find Local Help to find assistance in their area.

For a list of HHS Navigator awardees or more information about Navigators and other Marketplace resources, please visit:


August 28, 2014

ACA Training for Tucson Area Tribes

Free Affordable Care Act Training for Tucson Area Tribes

A training presented by the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Tribal Health Reform Resource Center in partnership with the Tucson Area Indian Health Service, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Tohono O’odham Nation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Casino del Sol
5655 West Valencia Road
Tucson, AZ  85757
9:00 am to 4:30 pm
For: Indian Health Service, Tribal and urban health program staff.



For more information, contact April Hale at [email protected] or 202-507-4077 or 202-812-2055 or Adam Archuleta, Tucson Area IHS, at [email protected] or 520-295-2549.