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photoDear Tribal Members & Friends,

Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) is Michigan’s District 1 Congressional Representative, where the Sault Tribe’s seven county service area resides.

Bergman told Interlochen Public News Radio in a recent interview he supports the GOP health care bill that repeals and replaces the Affordable Care Act.

During a House Budget Committee meeting last week, Bergman voted “YES” to send the bill to the full House. The measure passed 19-17, with three Republicans voting against it.

The legislation will come up for a vote on the floor of the U.S. House this Thursday (March 23).

Sault Tribe is asking tribal members and friends to call Bergman today and ask him to vote “NO,” at least for now.

The new bill would take away our tribal health system’s ability to generate $6 million in third-party revenue. Those extra millions still leave us underfunded, and losing the income would really hurt our health care system. Further, any new health care bill must include the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

Calling Bergman’s Washington DC office, and all the Michigan Congressional delegation would really help. It would let all Michigan’s representatives to Congress that we don’t support the GOP bill in its current form.

It is equally important that our tribal members and friends in Michigan who live outside the service area also call. If you are not sure who congressional representative is, type in your zip code here to find out: www.house.gov/representatives/find.

Call Rep. Bergman at his Washington DC phone: 202-225-4735

Rep. Debbie Dingell: 202-225-4071
Rep. Fred Upton: 202-225-3761
Rep John Conyers Jr.: 202-225-5126
John Moolenaar: 202-225-3561
Justin Amash: 202-225-3831
Mike Bishop: 202-225-4872
Paul Mitchell: 202-225-2106
Sandy Levin: 888-810-3880
Tim Walberg: 202-225-6276
Bill Huizenga: 202-225-4401
Brenda Lawrence: 202-225-5802
Dan Kildee: 202-225-3611
David Trott: 202-225-6276

Here are some taking points you can use on the phone:

• As Representative Bergman’s constituent, I am asking him to vote “NO” on the upcoming health care bill vote and work to ensure the benefits of the exchange to Michigan are maintained and the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act is assured.

• Eight federally recognized tribes reside in the first Congressional District of Michigan. As currently enacted, the Affordable Care Act has been important in bringing health insurance to nearly one-half million American Indians.

• The federal government, through IHS, funds only 56 percent of our identified health needs in my tribe’s service area — Chippewa, Luce, Mackinac, Alger, Marquette, Schoolcraft and Delta counties. The ACA has enabled my tribe to add $6 million in third-party revenue to our $19.5 million budget, bringing our funding up to 73 percent of our health needs, which helps us tremendously.

• The State of Michigan is in a similar situation with having agreed to expand Medicaid in exchange for a subsidy in doing so. Reneging on this is not in the best interests of your constituents.

• I consider treaty rights and trust responsibility an important part of Congressman Bergman’s duty. The 1836 Treaty my people signed with the U.S. government is still in force. It obligates the federal government to provide us with health, education and social welfare now and into the future. This is not an entitlement or even reparations — it is a pre-paid treaty right where we gave over millions of acres of land so Michigan could become a state.

Remember, the vote is on Thursday, March 23, so please make your calls today and tomorrow.

Thanks very much, everyone, for your help today. Hopefully Rep. Bergman will reconsider his “NO” vote on Thursday.

© 2017 - Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. All Rights Reserved.

Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY