NIHB Focus Areas


Posted: October 5, 2015

Congress Likely to Pass Short-term Funding Extension for FY 2016

With the surprise resignation of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) last week, it is expected that Congress will pass a short-term funding measure, known as a "continuing resolution" or "CR," to keep the federal government funded until December 11, 2015. Many conservative Members of Congress have argued for the stopgap measure to exclude funding for Planned Parenthood after a series of videos was released that allegedly show the organization illegally profiting from the sale of tissue from aborted fetuses. However, as of the time of this writing, it looks like efforts to derail the funding measure over the issue will not be successful. Congress is expected to clear the CR sometime on Wednesday, September 30, just hours before the end of the fiscal year.

If Congress does pass the CR, Congress must finalize the rest of FY 2016 appropriations by December 11. Many in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, are calling for a compromise that can raise the "caps" on spending set forth in the Budget Control Act of 2011. Without an agreement on higher spending levels, there could be the risk of devastating across-the-board sequestration cuts. Legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate to exempt Tribes from sequestration. You can click here to learn more about these bills.

Posted: September 1, 2015

Fishing, Cooking And A Yup'ik Upbringing Made Alaska's Health Commissioner

Valerie Davidson, Alaska's health and social services commissioner, drives her 1983 Chevy truck to pick up salmon for a dinner party for 50 people.
Annie Fiedt/Alaskan Public Media

In less than 24 hours, Valerie Davidson has 50 people coming to her house for dinner.

She had planned to catch and cook enough salmon for the main course. But early in the morning, Alaska opened the Kuskokwim River to commercial fishing, which means subsistence fishermen like her can't fish on it.

So Davidson and I are in her bright orange 1983 Chevy pickup stalking the "free fish" container where state biologists deposit their test catches after conducting studies after each high tide.

We have been here for an hour, but Davidson is patient and persistent. It's the same approach she used as Alaska's health and social services commissioner while working to expand Medicaid in the state...

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Posted: July 15, 2015

Historic White House Tribal Youth Gathering

On Thursday, July 9, the White House hosted the first White House Tribal Youth Gathering for over 1,000 Native Youth representing 230 Tribes from 42 states. Native youth leaders from across Indian Country engaged Cabinet officials, non-federal partners and an audience favorite - First Lady Michelle Obama. The First Lady assured everyone of the Administration's faith in today's Native youth by saying, "I know that you may have moments in your lives when you're filled with doubts, or you feel weighed down by history or stifled by your circumstances - every single one of your lives is precious and sacred, and each of you was put on this earth for a reason... you definitely have a President and a First Lady who have your back."

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Posted: July 10, 2015

Director Named for the Midwest Area Tribal Health Board

The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology Center (GLITEC), a program of Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, Inc. (GLITC), is pleased to announce that Kara Schurman has been selected as the Director of the Midwest Area Tribal Health Board (MATHB). Though the new area wide Health Board was launched through the efforts of the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes (MAST) about two years ago, a Health Board Director and administrative home was needed. Bemidji Area Tribal leaders have long recognized that other Indian Health Service Areas across the country have benefitted from their Health Boards in numerous ways to address long standing health issues...

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Posted: July 2, 2015

Using Innovative Models to Address Oral Health Needs in Indian Country

Today, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community announced steps it will be taking to bring an innovative mid-level dental provider model to its Nation.

National Indian Health Board Executive Director Stacy Bohlen applauded the Tribe's actions and shared, "Indian Country suffers from a severe shortage of dental care providers with many Tribal citizens going without regular and preventive care. Given these barriers to access, it is no surprise that American Indian and Alaska Native communities experience higher rates of disease than many segments of the general population. Today, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community took action to address the situation. We congratulate them on these steps, and we congratulate their Tribal citizens on what promises to be better oral health for all."

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Posted: July 2, 2015

IHS Releases Dear Tribal Leader Letter Detailing Changes on SDPI Funding Distribution

On June 29, 2015, the Acting Director of the Indian Health Service (IHS), Mr. Robert McSwain, issued a Dear Tribal Leader Letter (DTLL) and an Urban Indian Organization Leader Letter (UIOLL) regarding the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) FY 2016 funding distribution and formula.

SDPI is now entering its 19th year of providing diabetes treatment and prevention to hundreds of programs across Indian Country. After conducting a nationwide Tribal Consultation period March 19-April 20, 2015, and meeting with the Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee (TLDC) in May, the IHS Acting Director has made the following decisions for SDPI FY 2016...

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Posted: July 2, 2015

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Holds Hearing on Youth Suicide

On Wednesday, June 24, 2015, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing entitled "Demanding an End to Native Youth Suicides." The Committee was seeking information and answers on how Congress might be able to act in order to end the prevalence of youth suicide in Indian Country. During this hearing, the Committee heard from representatives from Indian Country and the Indian Health Service (IHS). The witnesses included: Acting Director for the Indian Health Service (IHS) Robert McSwain, Oglala Sioux Tribe Councilman Collins "C.J." Clifford, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., and Stanford Professor Dr. Teresa D. LaFromboise. The National Indian Health Board also submitted testimony...

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Posted: June 24, 2015

MSPI/DVPI Dear Tribal Leader Letter Released

Acting Indian Health Service Director Robert McSwain writes to Tribes to provide an update on how the IHS will move forward with Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI) and the Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative (DVPI) programs over the next five years.

Read Dear Tribal Leader Letter (PDF)

Posted: June 10, 2015

CDC Newsletter summary

CDC’s latest addition to its Public Health Practice Stories from the Field describes how pharmacists on the Yakama Nation Reservation in Washington are helping improve the health of patients with diabetes. The pharmacists help patients manage their diabetes and stay current on lab tests and health checks, thus easing the workload of overburdened primary care providers. Patients who are enrolled in the program are more than twice as likely to have their glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol under control as nonenrolled patients. Read Pharmacists Help Improve Health of Yakama Indians Living with Diabetes to find out how Yakama achieved this success.

Public Health Practice Stories from the Field is a collection of stories showcasing success and innovation in public health practice by state, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) health agencies. The stories are featured on the STLT Gateway, a web portal for STLT health professionals created by CDC’s Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support. You might also be interested in these other stories promoting heart health: Clinic Takes Team Approach to Controlling Hypertension in Ellsworth, Wisconsin, Public Health and Primary Care Partner in South Carolina to Address Cardiovascular Health, Schenectady County Program Lowers Sodium in Menu Items for Seniors, and Sodium Reduction Campaign Encourages Healthy Choices Among Consumers.

Posted - June 4, 2015

Dental Health Aide Therapist Program Recognized with Award from the Indian Health Service

WASHINGTON, DC--June 3, 2015--On May 29, 2015, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) Program was recognized with the Indian Health Service (IHS) Director's award for 2014 for its innovative public health and clinical strategies to provide quality dental care to Alaska Native communities.

The IHS Director's Award recognizes individuals or teams whose service significantly advances the Indian Health Service's mission and goals. The Dental Health Aide Therapist Program received an award for its "innovation, perseverance and leadership in improving access to safe and culturally competent dental care and addressing the significant oral health disparities across the Indian Health Service Areas."...

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Posted - June 4, 2015

NIHB Board Member Andy Joseph, Jr. Honored with Prestigious Director's Award from the Indian Health Service

WASHINGTON, DC--June 3, 2015--On May 29, 2015, the Indian Health Service (IHS) Acting Director Robert McSwain presented long-time National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Board Member Andy Joseph, Jr. with the 2014 IHS Director's Special Recognition Award for his significant contributions and unwavering leadership to advancing the health agenda in Indian Country.

"I am deeply honored and grateful to receive this award from the Indian Health Service. Through my many years and work on the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, and the National Indian Health Board, I have witnessed many struggles in Indian health but also many victories. The work that Tribal health professionals do across the country is needed to keep our Peoples healthy and strong, and I'm thankful that the work is recognized," said Mr. Joseph, who is in his fifth term on the Confederated Tribes of Colville Tribal Council representing the Nespelem District...

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Posted - May 6, 2015

A Toolkit: Five Fast Facts about the ACA for Native Youth

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) Division of Tribal Affairs joined forces to create Affordable Care Act (ACA) educational materials specifically for the Native youth population. The materials, highlighting the Fast Five Facts that Native youth need to know about the ACA, include three Public Service Announcements (PSAs), a poster and brochure. All materials are available for immediate download at NIHB's Tribal Health Reform Resource Center website. Tribes, Tribal organizations, I/T/Us, and other ACA stakeholders are encouraged to use the materials in their communities to help educate and empower youth, so that they in turn, can share information about the ACA with their families.

The Five Fast Facts that Native youth need to know about the Affordable Care Act are:
  1. They can be added to or kept on their parent or guardian's health insurance until they turn 26 years old.
  2. They will be covered for prevention screenings for STDs, HIV, pregnancy, depression and diabetes.
  3. Their additional coverage will allow them to receive services outside of the Indian Health Service.
  4. Medicaid may be an additional option for health coverage.
  5. Their parents can file an exemption from the tax penalty for them.

For more information, contact April Hale, NIHB Tribal Health Reform Outreach and Education Communications Coordinator, at 202-507-4077 or [email protected].

Posted - April 23, 2015

National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Elevates Native Health Issues at the Department of Health and Human Services

House Labor HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Holds Hearing on American Indian/Alaska Native Priorities

WASHINGTON DC - On April 23, 2015, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies held a Budget Hearing on Programs Serving Native Americans. This subcommittee is responsible for allocating annual funding for agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (with the exception of the Indian Health Service (IHS) which receives funding from the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subocmmittee) and the Departments of Education, Labor and related agencies. The hearing represented a historic opportunity for Tribal advocates to describe challenges that Indian Country faces when it comes to accessing federal programs at HHS and other federal agencies...

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Posted - April 21, 2015

Funding Opportunity: Navigator Grants

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a funding opportunity for organizations and individuals to operate as Navigators in Federally-facilitated Marketplaces (FFMs), including State Partnership Marketplaces (SPMs). As they have done over the past two years, and as they are doing now, Navigators will assist consumers in various ways, including providing information about available coverage options through the Marketplace during open enrollment.

Navigators have been an important resource for the millions of Americans who enrolled in coverage over the past two years. This funding announcement ensures this important work will continue over the next three years in states with a FFM, including during Marketplace open enrollment periods. Applications are due on June 15, 2015. For more information about the grant opportunity click here.

Posted - April 16, 2015

Special Diabetes Program for Indians Two Year Renewal Clears Congress

Last night, the U.S. Senate passed a two (2) year renewal of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI). The renewal was contained in a larger bill called: "H.R. 2 - The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015." The measure was passed the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 92-8. This follows action by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 26, 2015, which also passed the legislation by a bipartisan vote. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law...

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Posted - April 15, 2015

HHS announces $1 million in new grant programs to help improve sharing of health information

Projects to help long-term and behavioral health care providers

National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Karen B. DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., announced today the availability of $1 million in grant funds to support community projects for the Community Interoperability Health Information Exchange (HIE) Program. The funding will help support and enable the flow of health information at the community level, leading to better care and better health.

Read more about this announcement

Posted - March 20, 2015

NIHB would like to thank the following sponsors who gave so generously to make the 2015 Tribal Public Health Summit the largest to date

California Rural Indian Health Board
Centene Corporation
The Pew Children's Dental Campaign

Posted - February 26, 2015

Special Enrollment Period for Tax Season

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a special enrollment period (SEP) for individuals and families who did not have health coverage in 2014 and are subject to the fee or "shared responsibility payment" when they file their 2014 taxes in states which use the Federally-facilitated Marketplaces (FFM). Between March 15th and April 30th, those individuals and families who were unaware or did not understand the implications of this new requirement, can enroll in 2015 health insurance coverage through the FFM.

Enrolled members of federal recognized Tribes, including shareholders of Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporations, are eligible for enrollment on a monthly basis and do not need to wait for the SEP. Others eligible for services from an Indian Health Care Provider (Indian Health Service (IHS), Tribal or Urban Indian program) can enroll in this SEP.

This year's tax season is the first time individuals and families will be asked to provide basic information regarding their health coverage on their tax returns. However, those individuals who are members of federally recognized Tribes and shareholders of ANCSA corporations, as well as those who are eligible for services through an Indian health care provider, including IHS, can receive an exemption for 2014. There are two ways to apply for an exemption: by submitting an application through the Health Insurance Marketplace or claiming an exemption on the 8965 Tax Form.

Failure to claim an exemption and not having health coverage in 2014 will result in a fee - $95 per adult or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater - when they file their taxes this year. The fee increases to $325 per adult or 2% of income for 2015.

Posted - February 10, 2015

Dr. Yvette Roubideaux Named Senior Advisor to Secretary Burwell

This morning, HHS Secretary Burwell announced that Acting IHS Director Yvette Roubideaux, MD, MPH, will immediately begin serving as Senior Advisor to Secretary Burwell on American Indians and Alaska Natives. Robert McSwain will serve as Acting Director of IHS, effective immediately. The move comes as a result of Appropriations Act rules limiting the time that a nominee may serve in an “Acting” position. The Administration will resubmit Dr. Roubideaux’s nomination to serve as IHS Director.

To read the announcement from Secretary Burwell, CLICK HERE (PDF).

Posted - February 10, 2015

Tribal Leaders Visit Capitol Hill in Support of SDPI

Tribal leaders took to Capitol Hill on February 3, 2015 to provide outreach and education to Congress on the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI). Over 15 individuals participated in visits to 9 Congressional offices. The group met with members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate and included representatives from Cowlitz Indian Tribe; Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians; Navajo Nation; Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians; Pueblo of Zuni; Astariwi Band of Pit River Indians; the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians; and the Tohono O'Odham Nation.

SDPI will expire on September 30, 2015, unless Congress acts. The legislation that typically serves as the legislative vehicle for SDPI, the Sustainable Growth Rate Fix (aka the "Doc Fix"), which governs the rates physicians are paid by Medicare, expires on March 31 2015. It is still unclear if Congress will find a way to pay for the overall bill which is estimated to cost over $150 billion. If there needs to be another short-term patch for the Doc Fix Tribes are asking that SDPI be included in that reauthorization.

Please visit for more information on how you can be involved in SDPI renewal for 2015!

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