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Rep. Gallego Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Uphold Trust Responsibility to Native American Veterans

October 29, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Chair of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples and an Iraq War veteran, introduced the Native American Veteran Parity in Access to Care Today (PACT) Act, which would end the practice of charging American Indian and Alaska Native veterans a copayment for receiving care at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

America’s trust and treaty obligations guarantee Native Americans access to health care free of cost and, accordingly, they are not charged copays at Indian Health Service facilities.  Despite this, Native veterans who seek care at the VHA are subject to these out of pocket costs. This legislation would provide parity between government-funded sources of health care when it comes to upholding our trust and treaty obligation to guarantee health care to Native Americans.

“American Indians and Alaska Natives have long gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to our country,” said Rep. Gallego. “When these veterans return home, they deserve the access to health care that is guaranteed to them as both Native Americans and as veterans, no matter where they receive it. As Chairman of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples and a veteran myself, I am proud to introduce this legislation to bring the VA in line with our federal trust and treaty obligations to Tribes.”

This bill is endorsed by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH), the National Indian Health Board (NIHB), Minority Veterans of America, and VoteVets. Original cosponsors of the bill are Ranking Member of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples, Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA), Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA).

Rep. Ruben Gallego serves as Chair of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples. He is a Marine Corps combat veteran.