The 2018 Budget Is Being Criticized by Members of the Community
The 2018 federal budget proposal is taking heat from a number of different concerned parties, with Native Americans now voicing their reservations when it comes to service cuts in their communities.
While the cuts aren’t always towards Native American-specific programs, the broader implications of the budget proposal will see cutbacks to many services that are provided for Aboriginals. For instance, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education are all slated to lose significant portions of their funding. Native Americans avail themselves of many programs provided by these departments. (Source: “Trump Budget Calls For Cuts to Native American Health Care, Housing,” Voice of America, May 25, 2017.)
The Department of the Interior, in which the Bureau of Indian Affairs lies, also faces a near-11% cut.
Roughly 2.2 million people in the Native American and Alaska Native communities would be harmed by the cuts in health care spending alone.
Much of this is a result of Native Americans being underserved in the first place, as they represent a disproportionate number of Americans suffering from chronic disparities in health care, high rates of diabetes, heart disease, depression, and alcoholism.
Medicaid and other Social Security benefits that help the poorest in the nation–including Native Americans–are set to see their budgets significantly reduced should the proposal pass. Medicaid alone will see $610.0 billion removed from its budget over the next 10 years.
Such moves would dramatically reduce the ability of these programs to help serve these communities that have already long-suffered as a result of underfunding and a lack of comprehensive social services.
Other programs that are crucial to Native Americans, like the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps low-income households afford to heat or cool their homes, would be eliminated.
Last year, 150 tribal groups and more than 43,000 Native households received funds to keep their homes cooled or heated.
Furthermore, communities nestled in the more rural areas of Alaska, which therefore rely on government-funded programs to survive, would also feel the pain of these government cutbacks, with programs like Essential Air Service–which provides an annual federal subsidy to support commercial air service to remote areas–being cut. More than 60 communities would be impacted as a result.
“The cutbacks to tribal programs are cutting into the bone and fail to recognize very real and critically important needs,” Fawn Sharp, the president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, said at a tribal conference in Portland, Oregon. “It is so severe that it’s absolutely illogical and unreasonable.”