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Highlights

By law, facilities funded by the Indian Health Service (IHS) may retain reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid without an offsetting reduction in funding. Ensuring that IHS-funded facilities enroll individuals in--and obtain reimbursement from--Medicare and Medicaid can provide an important means of expanding the funding for health care services for the population served by IHS. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that administers Medicare and oversees states' Medicaid programs, is required by Executive Order and HHS policy to consult with Indian tribes on policies that have tribal implications. This requirement is in recognition of the unique government-to-government relationship between the 562 federally recognized Indian tribes and the federal government. GAO was asked to (1) describe interactions between CMS and IHS, (2) examine mechanisms CMS uses to interact and consult with Indian tribes, (3) examine mechanisms that selected states' Medicaid programs use to interact and consult with Indian tribes, and (4) identify barriers to Medicare and Medicaid enrollment and efforts to help eligible American Indians and Alaska Natives apply for and enroll in these programs. GAO reviewed documents, interviewed federal and state officials, and visited a judgmental sample of Indian tribes and IHS-funded facilities in six states.

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