Under treaties between tribe nations and the U.S. government, Alaska Natives and American Indians have access to federally funded health insurance.
"Our treaties state that we have a legal right to receive health care from the federal government," Abigail Echo Hawk, an enrolled member the Pawnee Nation in Oklahoma and executive Vice President of Seattle Indian Health Board said. "This is meant for quality health care that is provided to federally recognized tribes members. It is free because we have already paid for it with land that the United States owns."
According to the 2018 report of the independent, bipartisan Commission on Civil Rights (Commission on Civil Rights), the U.S. government hasn't adequately funded these programs leaving many Indigenous communities without access to quality care.
Echo-Hawk stated that if we don't have the resources we need, it will be difficult for us to address the underlying conditions of Indian health that have been created by colonial oppression. "Until we receive full funding for the Indian Health Service, it's going to be difficult to do more than provide immediate needs for our people."
CNBC received an email statement from the Indian Health Service stating that it had received historic investments of more than $9B since the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic. This was to address the long-standing health inequalities experienced by Alaska Natives and American Indians, as well as to ensure a comprehensive public response to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
You can see how federally funded health insurance for Alaska Natives and American Indians works in the video. It is also why activists and experts want to reform the system.