Navajo Nation to Create Own Healthcare

Navajo Nation to Create Own Healthcare

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) -- The Navajo Nation is seeking become one of the first Native American tribes to create it's own managed healthcare entity, the tribe recently announced.

The tribe said it plans to contract with Molina Healthcare to work toward a managed healthcare offering under New Mexico's Centennial Care Medicaid program.

Navajo Nation Counselor Daniel Tso, chair of the Health, Education and Human Services Committee, said the new entity "will be a one-of-a-kind medicaid program" designed to improve access and quality of healthcare on the largest Native American reservation.

Navajos access care at lower rates and experience worse outcomes when compared to the average Medicaid populations, and we must change those dire outcomes, Tso said.

There are about 75,000 Medicaid eligible Navajos living in New Mexico.

Under provisions established by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, each state is allowed to structure and tailor their Medicaid programs. In 2017, the state of New Mexico's Medicaid program received approval by Centers for Medicaid and Medicare to collaborate with Indian Managed Care Entities, including a pilot project with the Navajo Nation.

New Mexico state health officials estimated that the proposed entity could generate up to $468 million in annual payments to the Navajo Nation if 50,000 people enrolled.