Indian Health Service Hopes New Program To Boost Medicare, Medicaid Enrollment

By Carrie Jung
Published: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - 6:34pm

A pilot project aimed at getting more Native Americans enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid made a stop in Phoenix. Officials with the Indian Health Service hoped to sign up at least 1,000 people at an event Wednesday.

Similar events are being held at facilities in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Officials included Arizona because the state expanded its Medicaid eligibility with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

Mary Smith, the IHS principal deputy director, explained that while most Native Americans are eligible for free health care through the IHS, the use of any additional health-care program helps the federal agency do more with its annual budget.

"When people sign up for Medicare and Medicaid, it’s for yourself, for your own treatment, for your family, but also for your community," she said. "Because we’re able to leverage more treatment here at Phoenix Indian Medical Center."

Smith estimates PIMC collects about $100 million a year in third-party health-care program payments.

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