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In brief: Indian health care exemption broadened

Thu., June 27, 2013

Washington – The Obama administration on Wednesday broadened an exemption for American Indians from the new health care law’s requirement that virtually every U.S. resident has health insurance starting next year.

New rules clarify that people who are eligible to receive medical care through the federal Indian Health Service will be exempt from the requirement to have health insurance or face fines from the Internal Revenue Service. The Indian Health Service, a division of U.S. Health and Human Services, oversees a network of clinics that are required through treaty obligations to serve all patients of Indian ancestry, even if they cannot document their federal tribal status.

Last month, the Associated Press reported that the Affordable Care Act exempted only American Indians and Alaska Natives who can document their membership in one of about 560 tribes recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Yet more than 100 tribes nationwide are recognized only by states and not the federal government.

That meant thousands of people who consider themselves Native Americans would have to buy their own health insurance policies or pay a $695 fine to the Internal Revenue Service unless they could prove they were eligible to claim an exemption under the Affordable Care Act.

Australia to swear in Rudd as prime minister

Canberra, Australia – Kevin Rudd will be sworn in as Australian prime minister today, three years and three days after he was ousted from the nation’s leadership in an internal government showdown.

Julia Gillard tendered her resignation as prime minister to Governor-General Quentin Bryce Wednesday night after losing a ballot of ruling lawmakers to Rudd 57 votes to 45.

Bryce revealed she took late night legal advice on whether she should swear Rudd in as her replacement. A minority government such as Gillard led has not been seen in Australian federal politics since World War II and the ruling Labor Party’s leadership change has raised unique constitutional questions.

While Rudd has the support of his party, he does not necessarily have the support of a majority of lawmakers in the 150-seat House of Representatives. He could face a vote of no confidence before Parliament adjourns tonight for what is likely to be the last time before elections.

Gillard had set Sept. 14 as the election date. But Rudd has given no indication of whether he would stick with that timetable. A loss of a no-confidence motion could trigger an election as early as Aug. 3.


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