Indianz.Com > News > Sen. Udall: Indian health care at risk with Supreme Court nominee
PBS Newshour: Nomination of the Honorable Amy Coney Barrett to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (Day 1)
On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Senate Republicans Rush Confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett and Risk Health Care of American Indians and Alaska Natives
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Washington, D.C.— On October 12, 2020, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Senate Republicans began their efforts to rush through the Supreme Court nomination for Amy Coney Barrett.

The Supreme Court will hold hearings on California V. Texas on November 10th. Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s record makes clear that she would vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act. Such an act would have disastrous ramifications on American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

For American Indians and Alaskan Natives, if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the ACA, it would mean:
Many American Indians and Alaska Natives could lose coverage:

· In 2010, prior to the implementation of the ACA’s major coverage reforms, nearly one in three American Indians and Alaska Natives were uninsured. By 2019, that uninsured rate declined by more than a quarter to 19.1 percent. (Census Bureau, 2019)

· Striking down the ACA would rip coverage from the 290,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives who are enrolled through the Medicaid expansion. (CBPP 2017)

· If they lose coverage, American Indians and Alaska Natives could be forced to pay for COVID care out-of-pocket, and the CDC has found cases are 3.5 times higher in these populations. (CDC, 2020)

Discrimination against American Indians and Alaska Natives with pre-existing conditions:
One estimate suggests that 25.9 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives have a pre-existing condition that could lead to an insurer denying coverage (Families USA, 2010).

American Indian or Alaska Natives are more likely than the overall population to report being in fair or poor health (CDC, 2018).

Loss of benefits and protections for American Indians and Alaska Natives:
American Indians and Alaska Natives are allowed to enroll in marketplace coverage at any time and can change plans once a month, instead of having to wait for the annual open enrollment period (

American Indians and Alaska Natives earning between 100 and 300 percent of the Federal poverty level can enroll in a plan that has no deductibles, copayments or coinsurance. All American Indians can get coverage from an Indian Health Care Provider without any out-of-pocket costs (

· The ACA included a permanent reauthorization of the entire Indian Health Care Improvement Act. Striking down the ACA threatens the many improvements this reauthorization made to expanded authorities for the Indian Health Service (including improvements for elder care, mental health, substance use disorder treatment, and preventive care), improvements to Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP, and scholarship and loan programs in provider shortage areas (Families USA, 2010).

Judge Barrett’s record:
Judge Amy Coney Barrett has already indicated she would vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act. Barrett has said she and Justice Antonin Scalia have the same judicial philosophy. Justice Scalia twice voted to overturn the Affordable Care Act. He wrote the dissenting opinions in NFIB v. Sebelius and King v. Burwell.

Barrett criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for upholding the law, saying in 2017: “[Chief Justice John] Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.” Barrett also expressed disagreement with the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in King v. Burwell, where the court upheld a key component of the law, saying the dissent had “the better of the legal argument.”