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Using Partnerships to Reach Into Communities

Mark LeBeau is being honored as an Affordable Care Act Champion of Change.

Mark LeBeau

Mark LeBeau is being honored as an Affordable Care Act Champion of Change.

In California, tribal governments, tribal health programs, and the California Rural Indian Health Board (CRIHB) worked together to develop and share educational materials about the Affordable Care Act prior to its passage. Upon enactment of the ACA, CRIHB partnered with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, Oklahoma City Area Inter-Tribal Health Board, and United South and Eastern Tribes to develop tribal-specific educational materials about the legal rights of tribes and American Indian and Alaska Natives (AIANs) under the ACA. These partners each contributed funds to help make this work a reality.

This program became known as the Tribal Education and Outreach Consortium (TEOC). The people involved in this work became highly knowledgeable about the subject matter and formed a training program called TEOC University, which trained trainers to present the information to tribal communities. This was the first tribal work of this type in the United States, and the TEOC materials have been distributed throughout Indian Country.

Today, a number of federal and state offices provide these materials. Many of these materials have been reviewed and updated by CRIHB and the other members of TEOC. One of the most well-known programs we’ve helped with has been the National Indian Health Outreach and Education Initiative (NIHOE). This is a partnership between the Indian Health Service (HIS), the National Congress of American Indians, the National Indian Health Board, and representatives from each of the 12 IHS Areas. The partnership develops consumer-oriented materials to assist AIANs in understanding their opportunities under the ACA. Together, the partners provide local trainings, national marketing tools, and e-resources that clearly explain health reform changes and their impact on tribal communities. CRIHB has presented these materials to tribal governments, Indian health programs, and Indian communities and organizations.

To ensure the successful roll-out of the ACA in California, CRIHB policy staff have been meeting with state officials on a regular basis.  In addition, CRIHB has reached out to the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) for input in developing successful implementation strategies and tactics.

These strategies and tactics were incorporated into a proposal developed by CRIHB, which was presented to the state as a necessary and fundable ACA program. Eventually, the state agreed to fund our program. As a result of this work, the Covered California Tribal Community Mobilization program was created and funded at $250,000. The grant designated funds to support implementation of the ACA AIAN provisions and to meet the tribal consultation requirements outlined in federal guidance. While this grant will end in December of 2014, I and the rest of the folks at CRIHB will continue to seek additional financial resources in order to continue to implement this important work for Indian Country.

Mark LeBeau is Executive Director at the California Rural Indian Health Board.