NIHB Media Release                   



Contact: April Hale at or 202-812-2055


Native American Leaders Promote Affordable Care Act 
in National Indian Health Board Video 


BILLINGS, Mont.--April 3, 2014--During its full day of free Affordable Care Act training for Tribes, today in Billings, MT, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) launched a media campaign featuring American Indian elders. The launch was marked by the national debut of a public service announcement (PSA) for American Indian and Alaska Native elders highlighting how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) improves the health care for Native elders.


The PSA features five prominent leaders in Indian Country stating "Five Fast Facts" about Medicare and the ACA.  




Under the Affordable Care Act, American Indian and Alaska Native elders: 

  • Cannot be denied coverage for preexisting conditions;
  • Have long-term care that is affordable;
  • Have free annual wellness checkups;
  • Have new protections against elder abuse, neglect and financial misuse; and
  • Have improved prescription drug coverage.

The following Indian leaders participated in the PSA: 

  • Frank Ettawageshik, Executive Director of the United Tribes of Michigan
  • Arlen Melendez, Chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony
  • Cecilia Fire Thunder, former President of the Oglala Lakota Nation
  • Rex Lee Jim, Vice President of the Navajo Nation
  • Mike Williams, Tribal Councilman of the Akiak Native Community

The video can be viewed on NIHB's YouTube channel at:


"The Affordable Care Act brings many great benefits for all American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN), but for our elders, it specifically improves their Medicare coverage with annual wellness checks and cheaper prescription drugs," said NIHB Chairperson Cathy Abramson. "Our elders are the keepers of our traditions, creation stories and language. It is so important to keep them healthy, to ensure they receive the care they need and to educate them on their benefits through the ACA - and that's what this media campaign aims to do."


The Native Elder ACA Outreach toolkit includes the video, posters, brochures, fact sheets and dedicated web-based information on NIHB's website, will be distributed to Indian Health Service, Tribal and urban Native health facilities to show in their clinic waiting rooms. It also will be sent to Tribal senior and community centers, chapter houses, assisted living and nursing homes.


"The elder's video and materials are resources for Tribes to utilize in educating their members about the Affordable Care Act and the positive ways it can improve our elder's health. Our elders often influence the decisions made by the Tribe and family, and we hope through this outreach effort, they will share this important information with their communities," Chairperson Abramson added. 




National Indian Health Board |
926 Pennsylvania Avenue SE | Washington, DC 20003 | Phone: 202-507-4070