Rep. Kristi Noem’s bipartisan Tribal Employment and Jobs Protection Act (H.R.3080) was approved today by the House Ways and Means Committee, of which Noem is a member.  The legislation, which is now set to be considered by the full House of Representatives, exempts tribes and tribal employers from Obamacare’s costly employer mandate.  As a result, it would prevent massive fines that tribal employers would incur under the healthcare law’s employer mandate.

“We know one of the best ways to fight poverty is by creating opportunity within the job market,” said Noem.  “The Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate compromises healthy economic growth.  This is especially true in Indian Country where the federal government already assumes responsibility for healthcare access, making this job-killing mandate duplicative and even more damaging. I’m hopeful we can see this bipartisan legislation signed into law, eliminating a costly mandate and saving jobs.”

Because the federal government is already responsible for providing healthcare to tribes, tribal members were exempt from Obamacare’s individual mandate, but similar considerations were missed when it came to the employer mandate, likely due to the haste with which this law was written and passed.  Without relief, tribal governments could be required to cut important services while tribally-owned businesses could be forced to cut jobs.

Exempting tribes from the employer mandate has been endorsed by the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, which represents tribes in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. Additionally, the Tribal Employment and Jobs Protection Act has been endorsed by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The legislation, which Noem sponsored alongside Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) in the House, has also been introduced by Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Steve Daines (R-MT) in the Senate.

Do you want to sign up for my E-Newsletter?