The Tribal Public Health Accreditation Advisory Board (TPHAAB) met on October 5, 2016 in Salt Lake City and concluded a year-long effort to review the Public Heath Accreditation Board’s (PHAB) Standards and Measures.

October 5, 2016 TPHAAB participants: Bridget Caniff, Carrie Sampson, Natasha Bitsui, Larry Voegele, Liza Corso, Kaye Bender, Aneva Turtle Hagberg, Philene Herrera, Vickie Bradley, Tom Anderson, Apryl Krause, Karrie Joseph. Not pictured: Jamie Ishcomer, Verne’ Boerne. Contact Karrie Joseph, [email protected] for more information.

On Sunday, October 9, 2016 the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) attended a Strategy Session and World Cafe hosted by the Indian Health Service (IHS) to generate concrete ideas to establish a framework for transformative change in the IHS that can be implemented immediately.

"This is a tangible step towards addressing the incredible workforce shortage the Indian Health Services currently faces." Stacy A. Bohlen, Executive Director of NIHB. Click here for the briefing presented by IHS.

Please join the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) for a Post-Election Native Health Presidential Transition Summit on Thursday, December 8, 2016 from 8:30AM to 5:00PM in Washington, DC. More Information

On September 28 , 2016 the Veterans Administration (VA) held an in-person Tribal consultation session at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian to discuss its recent proposal to consolidate multiple community care programs, previously known as non-VA care, into one standard program with standard rates. Representatives from the National Indian Health Board , Lester Secatero, Chairman NIHB BOD and Stacy Bohlen , Executive Director NIHB were present on behalf of the 567 Tribal Nations that may be impacted by this proposal.

Lisa Pivec, Sr. Director of Public Health receives a NIHB 2016 Area Impact Award for leading the Cherokee Nation to be the first Tribal health department to achieve public health accreditation! Read the press release. More about public health accreditation…CLICK HERE

John T. Hammarlund of CMS "Can you hear the dreams crackling like a campfire? Can you hear the dreams sweeping through the pine trees and tipis? Can you hear the dreams laughing in the sawdust?...."


At the Tribal Nations Health Conference of the National Indian Health Board, leading Senate staffers and Tribal leaders discussed legislative options to reform IHS. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Republican and Democrat staff participants included Emily Newman, Chairman Barrasso's Counsel (left), Caitrin Shuy, NIHB Director of Congressional Relations (center) and Kim Moxley, Vice Chairman Tester's lead health staff (right). "There is a real understanding that we can't be waiting around to make IHS improvements," said Newman.

NIHB Chairman Lester Secatero and Albuquerque Area Representative signs the Cultural Wisdom Declaration establishing the value and importance of AI/AN cultures to drive health policy


National Indian Health Board and Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board Meet to Discuss New Strategies to Improve Health Systems for American Indians and Alaska Natives.


National Indian Health Board and Public Health Foundation Collaborate to Improve Health in Indian Country

CLICK HERE to read the release.

NEW VIDEO: Tribal Leaders' Perspectives on Public Health Accreditation

CLICK HERE to watch.

The goal of this policy agenda is to set forth specific recommendations to improve the social, emotional, mental, physical, and economic health of children and youth, allowing them to achieve their learning and developmental potential. In short, this initiative calls on key stakeholders to put First Kids 1st. Click HERE to read the Native Children’s Policy Agenda

CLICK HERE for more information

NIHB Focus Areas


Posted: October 19, 2016

NIHB Applauds the Enactment of the Native Children's Commission Bill

On Friday, October 14, 2016, President Obama singed the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act into law. The Act authorizes the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission over a three-year period to evaluate and make recommendations regarding ways to improve Tribal, state, and federal programs serving Native children. The original bill was introduced by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)...

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Posted: October 12, 2016

Indian Health Service Hosts Joint Tribal Advisory Committees Meeting

On Sunday, October 9, 2016 the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) participated in a Strategy Session and World Cafe hosted by the Indian Health Service (IHS). The session was the first ever joint meeting between the Indian Health Services' Direct Service Tribes Advisory Committee (DSTAC), Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee (TSGAC), and the Department of Health and Human Services' Secretary's Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC). The purpose of this session was two fold: to generate concrete ideas to establish a framework for transformative change in the IHS that can be implemented immediately, and provide a forum to host a discussion among advisory committee members to share goals, objecties, and strategic plans of the DSTAC, TSGAC, and STAC...

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Posted: October 6, 2016

Congress Passes Continuing Resolution, Funding for Zika

Last week, Congress passed a stopgap spending bill that would keep the federal government funded through December 9, 2016. The measure also provides $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus. Additionally, it provides for a full year of funding for the Department of Veterans' Affairs and military construction projects...

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Posted: September 30, 2016

2016-2017 Tribal ASI Awardees Announced September 29, 2016

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB), with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support is pleased to announce the selection of eight Tribal health departments for the Tribal Accreditation Support Initiative (Tribal ASI). This is the third cohort of Tribal ASI awards, and NIHB is excited about offering a total support package of $84,000 going directly to the eight selected Tribes. Each of the Tribal ASI awardees have constructed their own individual workplan that will accomplish specific and concrete steps towards achieving one or more of the standards for public health accreditation.

Read the Press Release (PDF)

Posted: September 23, 2016

National Indian Health Board Stands with Standing Rock

Scottsdale, AZ - The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Board of Directors signed a resolution in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation at the National Tribal Nations Health Conference on September 22, 2016.

The NIHB is dedicated to assisting and promoting the health needs and concerns of Indian people. The prevention of harm to the health and well-being of Indian people is an essential aspect of the purpose of NIHB. The Board believes water is the foundation of all life on Earth and its preservation is essential to human survival...

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Posted: September 21, 2016

NIHB 2016 Heroes in Native Health Awards Gala

September 21, 2016 – Phoenix, AZ - The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) 2016 Heroes in Native Health Awards Gala was held to honor individuals and organizations from across Indian Country for their achievements and contributions that go above and beyond the call of duty to enrich and improve American Indian and Alaska Native health. This year, forty-five individuals and organizations were chosen to receive recognition for their dedication to improving health outcomes in Indian Country. Some of these award winners have done tremendous work on behalf of their local community, while others have gone to great lengths to advocate and serve on a regional or national level. Read More

Posted: September 21, 2016

Acknowledging Challenges, Authoring the Future for Indian Country

Today marks the close of the first official day of the National Indian Health Board’s (NIHB) National Tribal Nations Health Conference, also known as the 33RD Annual Consumer Conference. NIHB is pleased to report that more than 800 Tribal leaders and health professionals joined us for our official opening ceremony! Taylor Talbi’Denzhoone Susan, Miss Indian Arizona, began the events for the day with a blessing and song, wishing all attendees a productive and safe time while attending the conference.

Over the course of the opening plenary, several ground breaking announcements were made, such as Principal Deputy Director of the Indian Health Service, Mary Smith, announcing a telemedicine contract for the Great Plains Area with Avera Health. Avera will provide care across 10 different specialty areas for all 19 service units. The announcement was met with a standing ovation from the NIHB Board of Directors and Great Plains Tribal leaders in attendance. Patrick Marcellais, the NIHB Great Plains Representative and Councilman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, said, "This is a terrific move that will make a huge difference to the Tribes in the Great Plains."

While acknowledging the health challenges facing American Indians/Alaska Natives, the tone of the plenary was one of making progress and creating solutions. As Ms. Smith stated, “If we are not talking about the difficult things, then we are not moving forward.”...

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Posted: September 20, 2016

Affordable Care Act Toolkit for Native Youth!

With the launching of Generation Indigenous in 2014, the Obama Administration showed the American people the heritage, tradition, and perseverance of Native people in this country. But more importantly, this movement helped Native youth to recognize the responsibility of continuing this energy for generations to come.

The direct creation of Generation Indigenous is to help remove barriers that stand between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed. While these barriers are numerous for many Native youth, the National Indian Health Board acknowledges that some of the most debilitating barriers to success that a young Native person faces are directly related to the health and wellbeing of themselves and their communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control the AI/AN youth demographic has drastic rates of diabetes type 1 and 2 among people younger than twenty years old . Furthermore, AI/AN adolescents are 50 percent more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to be overweight . These statistics illustrate large problems around obtaining quality of health and wellness for young people in Indian Country. Furthermore, they do not highlight the additional barriers unique to Indian Country for addressing these health disparities. These are, but not limited to, accessing affordable health insurance, proximity to quality healthcare providers, in addition to the high rates of health issues that impact Indian Country and its Native youth greatly.

This toolkit was created in generous partnership with the Indian Health Service. All content and materials within this toolkit are free for download and distribution.


Posted: August 30, 2016

National Indian Health Board and Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board Meet to Discuss New Strategies to Improve Health Systems for American Indians and Alaska Natives

RAPID CITY, SD - Today, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) and Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board (GPTCHB) met in a historic joint meeting to discuss Health Systems Improvement for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs). The meeting was called after a series of reports by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) found that certain facilities in the Great Plains Area of the Indian Health Service (IHS) are providing substandard care and failing to live up to the federal trust responsibility for health. Specific topics covered included how to increase the number of Native physicians in the workforce, ways to restructure the IHS in the Great Plains Area, increasing funding to the IHS, moving from direct service models to self-governance models of healthcare and ways to leverage existing relationships and federal Tribal advisory committees like the Secretary's Tribal Advisory Committee to get additional federal resources to Tribes...

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Posted: August 3, 2016

IHS Issues Multiple 'Dear Tribal Leader Letters' initiating Tribal Consultation on Several Initiatives

On July 29th, the Indian Health Service (IHS) released several 'Dear Tribal Leader Letters' updating Tribes on several Tribal consultation opportunities regarding recent policy proposals put forth by IHS.

First, IHS has extended the consultation period for its Tribal Premium Sponsorship Draft Circular. Tribal Premium Sponsorship occurs when a Tribe pays health insurance premiums on behalf of its IHS eligible members. By enrolling members in health insurance, it increases third party revenue to the IHS/Tribal facility which allows them to extend the services that they provide. Tribes have until October 31, 2016 to provide comment on this draft circular. In addition, an in-person Tribal consultation opportunity will be available at NIHB’s National Tribal Health Conference on September 19, 2016...

Read More (PDF)

Posted: July 18, 2016

NIHB Advocates for Continued Partnership and More Tribal Input to Improve Indian Health

On July 12, 2016, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) testified on behalf of all 567 federally recognized Tribes in a hearing held by the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resource Committee's Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs. The legislative hearing was held on H.R. 5406, the "Helping Ensure Accountability, Leadership, and Trust in Tribal Healthcare (HEALTTH) Act", recently proposed by Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD). The HEALTTH Act is just one of several recent pieces of legislation that aim to address the longstanding, systemic issues within the IHS that have led to crisis situations - especially, in the Great Plains Service Area. In the last year, several hospitals in this region have lost, (or received threats of revocation) their ability to bill Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) due to the failure of federally run sites to comply with basic safety and regulatory procedures...

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Posted: July 7, 2016

Creating a National Indian Health Service Community Health Aide Program

On June 1, 2016, IHS initiated tribal consultation through a Dear Tribal Leader Letter and a draft policy statement titled, "Creating a National Indian Health Service Community Health Aide Program." A national Community Health Aide Program (CHAP) would increase access to quality health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives through the expansion of community health aides at facilities operated by tribes and the Indian Health Service (IHS), including administrative requirements, such as the creation of a national certification board. To assist tribes with developing thoughtful comments, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB), in partnership with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) developed a Briefing Paper to provide some background information on the CHAP program and some preliminary ideas on what to include in any comments that tribes might submit. On July 7, NIHB and NPAIHB held a tribal-only call to solicit initial feedback on IHS’ proposal and answer any questions.

On July 15, NIHB will provide tribes with another opportunity to learn more about the CHAP program and its success in Alaska through a webinar from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. eastern. The purpose of the webinar will be to provide a more comprehensive overview of the CHAP program and answer any remaining questions that tribes might have.


  • Welcome & Purpose of the Webinar: Devin Delrow, Director of Federal Relations at the National Indian Health Board
  • CHAP Overview in Alaska: Dr. Robert Onders, Medical Director Health Systems and Community Services at Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
  • Review How the Program Can Be Replicated: Christina Peters, Oral Health Director at NPAIHB
  • Questions: All presenters


For more information on joining the webinar, please contact Sarah Freeman at [email protected]

Posted: July 7, 2016

NIHB Advances 17 Tribal Recommendations During Senate Committee Field Hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: During the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) oversight field hearing on Friday, June 17, in Rapid City, South Dakota, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) put forth 17 recommendations for improvement of the Indian health system. The hearing, "Improving Accountability and Quality of Care at the Indian Health Service Through S. 2953", focused on legislation proposed by U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Committee, and Senator John Thune (R-SD), titled the Indian Health Service Accountability Act of 2016...

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Posted: June 29, 2016

NIHB and NPAIHB Tribal Only Call on the Creation of National IHS Community Health Aide Program (CHAP)

The National Indian Health Board and the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) will be hosting a Tribal Only call on the Creation of a National Indian Health Service Community Health Aide Program (CHAP) on Thursday, July 7, 2016 at 4:00PM ET to discuss the proposed comments and provide input on the creation of a national Indian Health Service Community Health Aide Program (CHAP). Comments on the Creation of a National Indian Health Service CHAP are due to IHS no later than July 29, 2016. NIHB and NPAIHB will work collaboratively to develop a template Tribal comment letter to assist Tribes in making their own comments. NIHB and NPAIHB have created a briefing paper on CHAP for Tribes. Please contact Devin Delrow ([email protected]) for call-in information.

Posted: June 2, 2016

Tribal Exemption from Employer Mandate

The Tribal Employment and Jobs Protection Act (H.R. 3080) was considered in a Full Committee Markup of the U.S. House of Representatives House Ways and Means Committee:
H.R. 3080 was reported favorably by the Committee on a vote of 24 (yes) - 13 (no)

This legislation, introduced by Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD), seeks to exempt Tribes and Tribal employers from the employer mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). It would prevent fines that Tribal employers would incur under the employer mandate and ensure that the U.S. federal government lives up to its trust responsibility to federally recognized Tribes.

As the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said today in his opening statement, "Congresswoman Noem's legislation brings relief from Obamacare's employer mandate to Tribally owned advancing these bills today, we can demonstrate that we are serious about addressing major challenges in child welfare and health care."

The legislation will now move to be considered by the full House of Representatives. NIHB will continue to monitor and provide updates on this important legislation. If you have questions or feedback regarding this issue, please contact Mr. Devin Delrow, NIHB Director of Federal Relations, at (202)-507-4070 or [email protected].

Posted: June 2, 2016

Indian Health Service Seeking Tribal Consultation on the Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund (CHEF) Proposed Rule

Yesterday, the Indian Health Service (IHS) released a Dear Tribal Leader Letter to provide an update on the proposed rule for the Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund (CHEF). Several Tribes and Tribal Organizations, including the National Indian Health Board (NIHB), submitted comments and expressed concerns about the provisions and requested Tribal consultation before finalizing the rule. In response, IHS is listening to Tribes and will not move forward with the proposed rule until Tribal consultation has taken place, which will include two telephone consultation sessions and an in-person consultation session at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Convention scheduled for October 9-14, in Phoenix, Arizona...

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Posted: June 1, 2016

Indian Health Service Seeking Tribal Consultation on Draft Policy to Expand Community Health Aide Program

Today the Indian Health Service (IHS) released a Dear Tribal Leader letter requesting Tribal Consultation on a draft policy statement detailing the planned national expansion of the Community Health Aide Program (CHAP, including the creation of a national certification board.

The national expansion of the CHAP would mean an increase in paraprofessionals and workers providing services for health education, communicable disease control, maternal and child health, dental health, behavioral health, family planning, and environmental health. Community health aide is an encompassing term that includes behavioral health aides, nursing aides, and dental health aides. Many Tribal communities are likely familiar with a community health aide program already in place: the IHS Community Health Representative (CHR) program. The CHR deploys trained and medically guided health care workers that provide medical services, including health education, case management, patient transport, and patient advocacy.

Tribal communities in Alaska also benefit from the Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) program, which brings dental education and routine dental services to rural Alaska Native communities. DHATs provide dental services to 40,000 Alaska Native people since 2004. Many rural Alaskan Native villages also have Community Health Aides (CHA). CHAs serve as a primary provider for many individuals, providing emergency first aid, patient examinations and follow-ups in conjunction with the treating physician, and carrying out treatment recommendations, education and instruction, and conducting preventive health programs. Behavioral Health Aides (BHA) work within Tribal communities to address behavioral health needs, including substance abuse and mental health problems. BHAs address these needs by serving as counselors, health educators, and advocates.

With a low access to care in many Tribal communities and tremendous success in existing programs, the Indian Health Service is committed to expanding the Community Health Aide Program. In the draft policy statement Mary Smith, Principal Deputy Director of the IHS, states, "Not only do CHAPs contribute to the overall health care team, but the additional advanced training they receive often leads to improved health and quality of life for the communities they serve. CHAPs are proven partners in health, and the IHS is committed to seeing them expand outside of the State of Alaska."

In the coming weeks, NIHB will be reaching out to Tribes and Tribal organizations for their input on what they would like to see in the policy. Based on this input, NIHB will create a template comment and briefing memo for Tribes to use in submitting their own comments. If you would like a copy of these materials or more information, please contact NIHB’s Director of Federal Relations, Devin Delrow at 202-507-4072 or [email protected].

Comments are due to IHS on Friday, July 29, 2016.

Comments may be submitted to [email protected], with the subject IHS Expansion of Community Health Aide Program Draft Policy Statement Consultation.

Mail your comments to:
Alec Thundercloud, M.D.
Director, Office of Clinical and Preventive Service
Indian Health Service
5600 Fishers Lane Mail Stop: 08N34-A
Rockville, MD 20857
ATTN: IHS Expansion of Community Health Aide Program Draft Policy Statement Consultation

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