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Health overhaul impact on DC's Indians unclear

Wednesday - 5/15/2013, 7:00pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Of the more than 6,500 District of Columbia residents who self-identify as Native Americans, it's not clear how many will be forced to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Many American Indians get free health care through the Indian Health Service program. But President Barack Obama's health care overhaul specifies that only people who are part of federally recognized tribes will be exempt from the law's requirement individuals either purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.

There are no IHS facilities in the District of Columbia. The closest one is in Baltimore. District officials were unable to provide statistics Wednesday on how many of the city's 6,521 American Indians are part of recognized tribes, how many don't have insurance and how many receive free health care from IHS.

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