On December 5, 2013, as part of the National Indian Health Board's 4th Quarter meeting, board members met with Members of Congress and their staff to discuss key health priorities. They discussed topics including funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS), a sequestration exemption for IHS, Advance Appropriations for IHS, the Special Diabetes Program for Indians and other health concerns.
The Interior Appropriations Subcommittee meeting was attended by Chairman of the Subcommittee, Ken Calvert (R-CA), and the Co-chairs of the Native American Caucus Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK) and Betty McCollum (D-MN). There were also several staff members present to represent other members of the subcommittee. During the meeting, the Subcommittee members expressed strong support for Indian health and said that it is important that the federal government fulfill its trust obligation to Tribes. They highlighted support for a sequestration exemption for IHS, and advance appropriations. Committee members also expressed support for the renewal of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians.
The Senate was not in session last week, but NIHB members had the opportunity to meet with key staff who were also supportive of health concerns brought by the board. The staff members expressed the desire to work together with Indian Country to get some of these important initiatives to move forward, including the Definition of Indian in the Affordable Care Act.
The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) provides unique insights into the needs of Indian health system during the annual federal budget formulation cycle. The NIHB supports the Indian Health Service (IHS) Budget Workgroup, analyzes budget proposals and provides testimony before Congress regarding the IHS budget.