An (un-bylined) report in The New York Times (online 7/17) tells of the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming and its desire for a change in Obamacare. The Indian tribe employs approximately 1,000 workers, who are mostly found at the tribe’s casinos and government divisions. The Arapaho’s have historically paid its workers enough, so they can afford healthcare coverage – – at least under the “employer mandate” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Dean Goggles, chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, is now closely scrutinizing a pending congressional bill, which according to the Times story, “would exempt tribes nationwide from being classified as large employers under the federal Affordable Care Act.” The bill’s sponsor is Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont. As things stand now, The New York Times says that provision “requires tribes to pay higher insurance costs or face federal penalties.”
Recently federal district court judge Scott Skavdal rejected the Arapaho Tribe’s challenge to its falling under Obamacare’s definition of a “large employer.” “If Congress wished to exempt Indian tribes from this mandate that otherwise might be reasonably construed as applying to them, it needed to do so explicitly,” Skavdal determined.