In the spirit of Gov. Schweitzer’s commitment to make “Montana look like Montanans,” the Chippewa Cree Tribe and the governor will enter into an agreement for the Chippewa Cree Tribe to contract Medicaid Eligibility Determination from the state. This effort was initiated by Chippewa Cree Tribe Councilman and Montana State Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy with Montana HB 452. The authorization to determine Medicaid eligibility will assist the tribe in leveraging their inadequately funded Indian Healthcare budget to effectively address their critical health needs. American Indians have long experienced lower health status when compared with other Americans. Disproportionate poverty, discrimination in the delivery of health services and cultural differences has contributed to the lower life expectancy and disproportionate disease burden suffered by American Indians. American Indians born today have a life expectancy that is 2.4 years less than all races in the United States. American Indians die at higher rates than other Americans from: Tuberculosis 600 percent higher Alcoholism 510 percent higher Motor Vehicle Crashes 229 percent higher Diabetes 18 percent higher Unintentional injuries 152 percent higher Homicide 61 percent higher Suicide 62 percent higher. This landmark agreement, lead by the office of the governor and the Chippewa Cree Tribe, has been a true tribal, state and federal partnership that will assure access to healthcare for Montana tribes. Other major partners in this effort are the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, the Billings Area Indian Health Service and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services/Region VIII. The signing ceremony will be at 4:30 p.m. today at the tribe’s new health facility, the Nah-Tos Healing Center, at Rocky Boy. Please contact Fawn Tadios, CEO, Rocky Boy Health Board at (406) 395-4486 for any additional information.