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St. Regis Mohawk tribal government building in Akwesasne. Photo: David Sommerstein.
St. Regis Mohawk tribal government building in Akwesasne. Photo: David Sommerstein.

How the sequester could affect Mohawk health care

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The effects of across the board federal spending cuts - known as the sequester - are still being sorted out. Mohawks in Akwesasne are bracing for cuts to health care and law enforcement.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

Native tribes across the country get federal funds for everything from staffing tribal governments to education to environmental protection. National Congress of American Indians president Jefferson Keel said in Washington, DC last week that those programs stand to lose 130 million dollars in funding from the sequester. He said that could result in 800,000 fewer visits to tribal hospitals and health clinics nationwide.

Mohawk officials like Tsiorasa Barreiro, executive director of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, are still trying to figure out what it all means for Akwesasne.

"We still haven't received concrete information from our agencies. Because of that, we haven't been able to make any specific plans."

Barreiro says he's asked staff at the tribal health clinic and the tribal police to make plans for dealing with less money, and they're also concerned about a two percent across-the-board cut to Medicaid reimbursements.

"Medicaid's important to us. Our child and family services department as well as our health services receive Medicaid reimbursements and so any cuts to Medicaid reimbursements would have a significant impact to us."

Barreiro says the tribe's goal is to become self-sufficient. But the federal Department of Interior still plays a significant role in helping tribal governments across the country.

CORRECTION: The audio version and an earlier print version of this story incorrectly named the NCAI president, Jefferson Keel.

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