Tribal nations, the government shutdown, and you - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Tribal nations, the government shutdown, and you

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The Choctaw Nation Regional Health Clinic. (KTEN) The Choctaw Nation Regional Health Clinic. (KTEN)

It's been 13 days since a partial shutdown of the federal government. President Trump says he won't compromise on his demand for a wall along the nation's border with Mexico.

"The United States needs a physical barrier," he said.

So how does this shutdown affect Oklahoma's Indian nations?

"Yes, they are a sovereign nation, but under the treaties that the federal government signed with different tribes, part of the agreement was education and health care," said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-District 2).

Some of the well-known tribes in southern Oklahoma -- Choctaw and Chickasaw -- are staying strong during the shutdown.

"The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is dedicated to the well being of its tribal members, and has a plan in place to prevent any disruption of necessary services," the tribe said in a written statement.

But what about smaller tribes? What happens if this shutdown endures for weeks?

"When they're solely dependent on it, they're gonna be hurt, hit a lot harder," Mullin said.

One specific area where tribal nations could get hit is health care. Rep. Mullin is trying to change that.

The Indian Health Service, a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, uses federal dollars to help tribal hospitals.

"What we're trying to do is separate it," Mullin explained. "We're saying, look: IHS has nothing to do with what's happening with border security, and we gotta quit playing games with it "

Mullin's proposed legislation, H.R. 7362, aims to provide a stable source of funding for the Indian Health Service.

"We don't have the VA, or Medicaid or Medicare -- that's in this issue. It's just Indian Health Services, and this shouldn't be here. We should be able to remove this completely away from it and move it someplace else," Mullin said.

There's no timeline for passage of H.R. 7362, but Mullin said they're hoping to make some headway on it next week. 

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