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Nevada Native Americans Seek Health Relief from Next President

October 31, 2008

Las Vegas, NV – Healthcare access is the top concern of many Native Americans in Nevada, just as it is with other groups. And, with only days until the election, Nevada is one of many states now mulling over the idea of lowering its state contributions to the federal Medicaid program, as a way to balance the budget.

Medicaid is a major source of funding for tribal health centers. Reno Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Chairman Arlan Melendez says, problems like these have Native American Nevadans looking for leaders who can deliver on promises to improve access to healthcare.

"There's more diabetes that seems to be hindering our people, more people passing away at an early age. With the economy, with Medicaid considerations, for states to cut back on Medicaid — healthcare access should be Number One. "

Another issue Melendez feels has gotten little attention in the political campaigns is education. He points out that admission standards are getting tougher at the University of Nevada, and Native Americans need real educational opportunities - not just what he sees as slogans, with no funding to back them up.

"Not only because of No Child Left Behind, but I think that Native American Students are such a small minority that the focus on them gets left out, as to how they're doing."

Unlike other states, Nevada tribes do not have casino gaming to fall back on for income. Melendez says that makes it even more critical, for tribes and individuals, that the next U.S. President gets financial markets back in gear and lines of credit flowing again.

Michael Clifford/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - NV