Washington Report

An NIHB Publication

The Washington Report is an e-newsletter produced by the National Indian Health Board. Each issue contains a listing of current events on Capitol Hill, information on passed and upcoming legislation, Indian health policy analysis and action items.

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Legislative

Located on Capitol Hill, the National Indian Health Board is a dedicated advocate in Congress on behalf of all Tribal Governments and American Indians/Alaska Natives. We maintain a presence in the halls of Congress, working with representatives from across the country to achieve quality, lasting health care for tribal members.

In our efforts to secure quality health care we track legislation and regulations, lead discussions on health care reform, provide recommendations and analysis of the Indian Health Service budget and assist tribes in securing federal funding.

The NIHB Guide to Congress for 2014 (PDF)


What's New?

Posted - July 24, 2014

Tax Break Eyed to Help Indian Health Service Boost Staffing

By Kerry Young, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

While serving a population that tends to be poorer and sicker than average, the Indian Health Service has struggled to staff positions in its network of far-flung and sometimes remote sites.

As of February, the service had 1,500 vacancies for health professionals, including doctors, dentists, and nurses, according to a budget document. Openings included those for psychiatric nurse practitioners in Montana, pharmacists in South Dakota and physical therapists in New Mexico...

Read Full Article (PDF)



Posted - July 22, 2014

Licensing ‘dental therapists’ could give more Americans the care they need

The Washington Post

In 2009, 830,000 visits to emergency rooms around the country could have been prevented if the patients had seen a dentist earlier. In 2011, more than half of children on Medicaid went without dental care. These facts lie behind the story of Deamonte Driver, a Prince George’s County seventh-grader who died of a preventable infection that spread from his mouth to his brain in 2007. Maryland pushed through some reforms following Deamonte’s death, but the situation across the country has not dramatically improved...

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Posted - June 30, 2014

American Journal of Public Health reports on American Indian Health Policy and under-funding of IHS:

The United States has a trust responsibility to provide services to American Indians and Alaska Native (AI/AN) persons. However, a long-standing history of underfunding of the Indian Health Service (IHS) has led to significant challenges in providing services

http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301682



Posted - April 7, 2014

American Indians Look to Veterans’ Model for Stable Health Budgets

By Kerry Young, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

Groups representing American Indians are looking to adapt a strategy used by veterans’ associations to secure more stable funding for tribal health needs and relieve the strain on a system that faces some of the nation’s most serious medical crises.

The National Indian Health Board, National Congress of American Indians and the National Council on Urban Indian Health and the Maniilaq Association are backing a pair of bills (S 1570,HR 3229) that would allow the Indian Health Service to receive advance appropriations, meaning that Congress would settle on more than one year’s budget at a time. Congress began doing this for the Veterans Health Administration for fiscal 2010 with the goal of giving the agency more flexibility to do longer-term planning...

Read Full Article (PDF)



Posted - April 2, 2014

Native American Leaders Promote Affordable Care Act in National Indian Health Board Video

BILLINGS, Mont.--April 3, 2014--During its full day of free Affordable Care Act training for Tribes, today in Billings, MT, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) launched a media campaign featuring American Indian elders. The launch was marked by the national debut of a public service announcement (PSA) for American Indian and Alaska Native elders highlighting how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) improves the health care for Native elders.

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Posted - April 2, 2014

NIHB Tribal Public Health Summit Focuses on Building Capacity and Partnerships on First Day

BILLINGS, Mont.--April 1, 2014--The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) opened its 5th Annual National Tribal Public Health Summit in Billings, Mont. with a powerful, passionate keynote address from one of Indian Country's most renowned physician and a leading resource on Indian health.

Dr. Donald Warne, Director of the Master of Public Health Program at North Dakota State University, impressed upon nearly 400 Summit attendees that to build effective public health capacity in Indian Country the investments, resources and mind-sets need to change...

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Posted - December 16, 2013

SDPI Renewal Clears First Legislative Hurdle

On Thursday, December 12, the Senate Finance Committee passed its “Doc Fix” reform bill which will reform the payments made to doctors under Medicare. Importantly, the legislation that was advanced also contained provisions known as “Medicare Extenders.” The renewal of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) was part of that package. The bill would renew the program for 5 years at $150 million per year. The legislation passed out of committee without any opposition. Thank you to everyone who called in to support this important legislation!

The House Ways and Means Committee also passed a “Doc Fix” bill last Thursday. The version does not contain the extender package. However, it has been reported that Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) also plans to “address” the Medicare extenders before this bill reaches the full House of Representatives for consideration. NIHB encourages you to continue to contact House of Representatives members to support this in the Medicare Extender package when it is considered in 2014.

These measures will likely be considered by the full chambers next year as Members of Congress search for ways to offset the additional spending in the proposals. This week, Congress is expected to pass a 3 month patch for “Doc Fix” until they can complete a full reform which will likely occur in early 2014.

If you have any questions about SDPI, or would like information on how you can become involved in NIHB’s renewal campaign, please contact Caitrin Shuy, NIHB Manager of Congressional Relations at cshuy@nihb.org or (202) 507-4085.



Posted - October 7, 2013

Advance Appropriations

The National Indian Health Board, along with the National Congress of American Indians, the National Council on Urban Indian Health and the Maniilaq Association are working with Congress to achieve advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service. On October 1, 2013, Congressman Don Young (R-AK), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, along with Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), introduced the “Indian Health Service Advance Appropriations Act of 2013” (H.R. 3229). This legislation would allow for the Indian Health Service (IHS) to receive advance appropriations. An advance appropriation is funding that becomes available one year or more after the year of the appropriations act in which it is contained. For example, if the FY 2015 advance appropriations for the IHS were included in the FY 2014 appropriations bills, those advance appropriations would not be counted against the FY 2014 funding allocation but rather, against the FY 2015 allocation. If IHS had received advance appropriations, it would not be subject to the government shutdown or automatic sequestration cuts as its FY 2014 funding would already have been in place...

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Posted - October 4, 2013

Indian Health Among Tribal Programs That Could Re-Open Under Mini Continuing Resolution

Yesterday (October 3, 2013), the House of Representatives approved for House Floor consideration several measures which would end the government shutdown for select agencies. Among these was a resolution offered by Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Mike Simpson (R-ID) to continue funding for several programs critical to Indian Country. The “American Indian and Alaska Native, Health, Education, and Safety Act” (H.J.Res.80), would fund the Indian Health Service (IHS), The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) until December 15, 2013. This bill would provide funding for these programs at FY 2013 funding levels, and still maintain sequestration cuts. In addition to this bill there were also measures approved for consideration that would fund nutrition assistance for low-income women and children (H.J.Res.75) Impact Aid, (H.J.Res.83) and Head Start (H.J.Res.84)...

Read More (PDF)



Posted - October 4, 2013

Government shutdown's hit magnified for tribes; 300 in Crow Tribe furloughed

Billing's Gazette

CROW AGENCY — American Indian tribes have more than access to national parks on the line with the government shutdown, as federal funding has been cut off for crucial services including foster care payments, nutrition programs and financial assistance for the needy.

For the 13,000 members of southeast Montana's Crow Tribe, the budget impasse had immediate and far-reaching effects: Tribal leaders furloughed more than 300 workers Wednesday, citing the shutdown and earlier federal budget cuts...

Read full article:
http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/government-shutdown-s-hit-magnified-for-tribes-in-crow-tribe/article_28d79f72-667c-5eb7-b01d-3bd6d59610d5.html#ixzz2gn2JbT5N



Posted - October 1, 2013

What you need to know about the Government shutdown and Indian Health

The U.S. government has officially shutdown as of 12a.m. on October 1 due to Congress’s failure to pass a continuing resolution, or “CR,” to fund the government. Late last night, the House of Representatives sent back a version of the CR to the Senate which delayed the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act and eliminated health premium subsidies for members of Congress, their staff and the president, his cabinet and political appointees. However, the Senate immediately rejected this proposal. The House then voted to go into a “conference” with the Senate to work out a final CR. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused noting, “We will not go to conference with a gun to our head." Both chambers are in session today, but a path forward is unclear.

What does this mean for Indian health?...

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Posted - July 31, 2013

House Appropriations Committee Considers FY 2014 Interior Appropriations Bill

Amendment on IHS Sequestration Exemption Offered

Today the House Appropriations Committee began consideration of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. As you may recall from last week, spending in this bill was cut by 14 percent from FY 2013 post-sequestration levels. While the Indian Health Service (IHS) received funding equal to that of the FY 2013 post-sequestration level, many other programs in the bill were eliminated or drastically slashed causing Ranking Member of the Interior Subcommittee Jim Moran (D-VA) to call the bill a "disgrace" and "an embarrassment." ...

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April 9, 2013

Senate and House Pass FY 2014 Budget Resolutions

In the early morning hours of March 23rd, the U.S. Senate passed a Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Budget Resolution, the first time in nearly four years that the Senate has produced a budget. The proposal, which Democratic drafters say will reduce the federal deficit by $1.85 trillion between spending cuts and tax increases, passed narrowly 50-49 on a largely partisan vote after thirteen continuous hours of voting. A handful of Democrats, all up for reelection next year and representing conservative states, voted against the measure: Sens. Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Mark Begich (D-AK). Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) was absent.

On March 22, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced an amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution that sought to provide advance appropriations to IHS. While passage of this amendment was unsuccessful, the amendment would have created a deficit-neutral reserve fund to allow for advance appropriations to IHS. Healthcare services directly administered by the federal government, such as those delivered through the Department of Veterans Affairs, are funded by advance appropriations to minimize the impact of late, and at times, inadequate budgets, forcing the federal government to reduce demand (i.e. ration care). This amendment would have provided some predictability for funding to administer IHS medical services and ensure passage of a sufficient, timely and predictable budget at least a year in advance. NIHB led a national outreach campaign asking Indian Country to contact their Senator and support advance appropriations for IHS. NIHB also worked for the inclusion of an amendment to protect IHS from all future sequesters. That effort was not successful.

On March 21, the House of Representatives passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) FY 2014 Budget Resolution on a mostly party-line vote of 221-207. The House spending plan aims to bring the federal deficit into balance in ten years by repealing the Affordable Care Act, overhauling Medicare and pairing back government spending.



April 9, 2013

Congress Approves Stopgap Spending Bill to Avert Government Shutdown

On March 21, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 933 - the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act - which provides funding for government agencies the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 (March 27-September 30) in the wake of automatic cuts ordered under sequestration and averts any threat of a government shutdown in March. Final passage of H.R. 933 came on a 318-109 vote in the House, as top Republicans opted to embrace significant changes approved by the Senate on March 20 rather than risk further delay.

H.R. 933 does not reverse the automatic budget cuts of Indian programs under the sequester. The bill added $53 million in funding to the Indian Health Service budget for staffing of new health care facilities and $3.9 billion in funding for the Indian Health Service, which is a slight increase from the FY 2012 enacted level of $3,866,000. The bill has been sent to the White House where President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law soon.



April 8, 2013

NIHB Releases the 2013 Legislative and Policy Agenda

The NIHB Board of Directors has set forth the American Indian and Alaska Native health care priorities that the NIHB will pursue at the national level through its legislative and regulatory work in 2013.

To view a copy of the NIHB 2013 Legislative and Policy Agenda, CLICK HERE (PDF).



March 4, 2013

Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Releases Report to Congress on the Joint Committee Sequestration for Fiscal Year 2013

On March 1, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its Report to the Congress on the Sequestration for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. The Report provides calculations of the amounts and percentages by which various federal agency budgetary resources are required to be reduced over the seven months remaining in the fiscal year and a listing of the reductions required for each non-exempt budget account.

As a result of the Congress’s failure to enact legislation to stop the sequester, President Obama was required by law to issue a sequestration order on March 1 canceling $85 billion in budgetary resources across the federal government for FY 2013. As noted in the Report, the Indian Health Service (IHS) discretionary lines – IHS services and facilities – are subject to a 5% cut, which translates into a cut of $195 million for services and a $22 million reduction for facilities in FY 2013. The IHS mandatory account for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) is subject to a 2% cut of $3 million.

For a copy of the OMB March 1 Report, CLICK HERE



March 4, 2013

House of Representatives Votes to Renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

On February 28, the House of Representatives voted in support of S. 47, a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The legislation passed on a vote of 286 to 138, with 199 Democrats joining 87 Republicans in support of the reauthorization of the landmark 1994 law, which assists victims of domestic and sexual violence. The successful measure passed the Senate last month with 78 votes — including those of every woman, all Democrats and just over half of Republicans. The approved VAWA measure includes a key provision that will allow Tribal courts to prosecute non-Native perpetrators accused of assaulting Indian women on Tribal lands. The measure is now on its way to the desk of President Obama to be signed into law.

The alternative unveiled by the House last week immediately came under sharp criticism from Democrats and women’s and human rights groups for failing to include protections in the Senate bill for gay, bisexual or transgender victims of domestic abuse. The House bill eliminated “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from a list of “populations” that face barriers to receiving victim services — and also stripped certain provisions regarding American Indian women on reservations. With House Republicans divided, House leadership agreed that it would allow a vote on the Senate bill if the House version could not attract sufficient votes. It failed on a vote of 257 to 166. Sixty Republicans joined 197 Democrats in opposition; 164 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted for it.



February 26, 2013

House Republicans Unveil Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Proposal

This week, House Republicans will bring to the House floor a five-year reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), but the legislation is considerably narrower than the bipartisan VAWA bill passed by the Senate earlier this month. The House VAWA proposal includes narrow language that would give Tribal courts the authority to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators, but only if those courts are certified by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Two House Republicans – Reps. Tom Cole (R-OK), a member of the Chickasaw Nation, and Darrell Issa (R-CA) – plan to offer an amendment that would allow Tribal courts to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators accused of domestic violence offenses against Indian victims. The amendment would also allow non-Indian defendants being tried by a Tribal court the right to request their trial be moved to a U.S. district court if they believed their constitutional rights were being violated.

On February 12, the U.S. Senate, by a robust bipartisan majority of 78-22, passed S. 47- Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2013 - legislation would allow Tribal courts to prosecute non-Native perpetrators accused of assaulting Native women on Tribal lands. The Violence Against Women Act, which provides federal grants for legal assistance, transitional housing, law enforcement training and domestic violence hotlines, expired in 2011. Both the House and Senate passed renewal bills last year, but were unable to come to an agreement before the end of the Congressional session.



February 26, 2013

107 House Democratic Caucus Members Sign Letter to White House Opposing Entitlement Cuts

Concerned that a potential deal to defuse the looming sequestration cuts will include cuts to social safety-net programs, 107 House Democrats sent a letter to President Obama on February 15 calling on him to oppose any entitlement benefit reductions, including switching to the so-called “Chained CPI.” The Chained CPI is a measure of inflation that factors rises in the cost-of-living into, among other things, social security benefits. Chained CPI does not rise as quickly as the measure of inflation that the government uses currently. If the federal government switched to the Chained CPI to calculate social security benefits, these benefits would increase slowly over time. The chained CPI would change the way the federal government calculates inflation and could lead to reduced benefits to seniors.

Republicans are demanding entitlement reform as part of a deal to avert the sequester, the planned across-the-board spending cuts that will go into effect on March 1 unless Congress acts to pass legislation to avoid the sequester. President Obama nor Senate Democrats have endorsed any cuts to the social safety-net programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits while the White House has specifically ruled out raising the Medicare eligibility age.



February 20, 2013

NIHB Urges Congress to Oppose Budget Cuts to Tribal Programs Through Deficit Reduction

Last week, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) stood with Indian Country and urged Congress to uphold the Federal government’s trust responsibility and oppose any cuts to Indian program funding as Congress looks for ways to reduce the country’s deficit. The recently passed American Taxpayer Relief Act reduced the level of the sequester for non-defense discretionary programs, including the Indian Health Service (IHS), from 8.2% to 5.1%, which would result in a reduction of the IHS budget by $219 million. This cut would translate into lost funding for primary health care and disease prevention services for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), which is certain to produce tremendous negative health impacts.

Due to the delay in implementing the sequester, these cuts would be achieved over only seven months instead of 12, making the effective percentage of reductions approximately 9% for non-discretionary programs like IHS. Recently, the White House projected that sequestration would slow efforts to improve the delivery of health care to AI/ANs through the IHS and would result in 3,000 fewer inpatient admissions and 804,000 fewer outpatient visits. In addition, the billions in cuts to funding for other key health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will further the devastating blow to the Indian Health Care system. NIHB continues to monitor the situation and will provide updates as they develop.



February 20, 2013

Senate Democrats Reach Deal on the Sequester

On February 14, Senate Democrats agreed to move forward with a roughly $110 billion budget package – evenly divided between new tax revenues and spending cuts – to forestall the across-the-board sequester cuts due to take effect on March 1. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) indicated that he hopes to bring the bill to the Senate floor the week of February 25 when the Senate returns from the President’s Day recess.

That leaves little time before the billions in across-the-board cuts take effect and Senate Democrats face an uphill climb finding Republican supporters of the legislation. The goal of the bill is to forestall sequestration and buy 10 months in which Congress and the White House could potentially implement a larger budget deal to put the rest of the continued threat of the deep budget cuts threatening the Pentagon and domestic appropriations every year. Nonetheless, the Senate Democratic bill is the first sign of legislative movement after weeks of finger-pointing in Congress. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) stated that if Senators “are willing to pass a bill, the House will find some way to work with them to address this problem.”



February 20, 2013

President Obama Delivers Annual State of the Union Address to a Joint Session of the 113th Congress

On February 12, President Obama delivered his first State of the Union address of his second term to a joint session of the 113th Congress. President Obama urged a deeply-divided Congress to embrace his plans to use federal funding to create jobs and strengthen the nation’s middle class and insisted that lawmakers pay down the federal deficit through a combination of targeted spending cuts and tax increases.

President Obama will continue to work with a Congress that remains nearly as divided as it was during the final years of his first term, when Congress lurched from one from one crisis to another. Republicans are ardently opposed to President Obama’s calls for legislating more tax revenue to reduce the nation’s deficit and offset the broad automatic spending cuts – known as the sequester – that are to take effect on March 1. During the Address, the President broke little new ground on two agenda items he has pushed vigorously since winning re-election: overhauling the nation’s fractured immigration laws and enacting tougher gun control measures in the wake of the horrific shootings around the nation. Yet with unemployment persistently high and consumer confidence falling, the economy remains a vulnerability for the President and could disrupt his plans for pursuing a broader agenda.



February 20, 2013

Senate Approves Legislation Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

On February 12, the U.S. Senate, by a robust bipartisan majority of 78-22, passed S. 47- Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2013 - legislation that contains a key Tribal provision that would allow Tribal courts to prosecute non-Native perpetrators accused of assaulting Native women on Tribal lands.

President Barack Obama, in a statement, praised the Senate for working across party lines to pass the bill and said: “The bill passed by the Senate will help reduce homicides that occur from domestic violence, improve the criminal justice response to rape and sexual assault, address the high rates of dating violence experienced by young women, and provide justice to the most vulnerable among us. The Tribal court jurisdiction over non-Native perpetrators issue is expected to be a hurdle as lawmakers try to reconcile the Senate bill with the eventual House bill. Two House Republicans – Reps. Tom Cole (R-OK), a member of the Chickasaw Nation, and Darrell Issa (R-CA) – have been pushing a legislative compromise that would give defendants the right to request that their trail be moved to a federal court if they felt they were not getting a fair trial.

Last year, both the Republican-led House and the Democratic-controlled Senate passed VAWA renewal bills, but were unable to reach a final compromise. The original 1994 VAWA was negotiated by Vice President Joe Biden, then a Senator from Delaware, and expired in 2011.



February 19, 2013

NIHB Urges Congress to Oppose Budget Cuts to Tribal Programs Through Deficit Reduction

Last week, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) stood with Indian Country and urged Congress to uphold the Federal government’s trust responsibility and oppose any cuts to Indian program funding as Congress looks for ways to reduce the country’s deficit. The recently passed American Taxpayer Relief Act reduced the level of the sequester for non-defense discretionary programs, including the Indian Health Service (IHS), from 8.2% to 5.1%, which would result in a reduction of the IHS budget by $219 million. This cut would translate into lost funding for primary health care and disease prevention services for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), which is certain to produce tremendous negative health impacts.

Due to the delay in implementing the sequester, these cuts would be achieved over only seven months instead of 12, making the effective percentage of reductions approximately 9% for non-discretionary programs like IHS. Recently, the White House projected that sequestration would slow efforts to improve the delivery of health care to AI/ANs through the IHS and would result in 3,000 fewer inpatient admissions and 804,000 fewer outpatient visits. In addition, the billions in cuts to funding for other key health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will further the devastating blow to the Indian Health Care system. NIHB continues to monitor the situation and will provide updates as they develop.

Indian Health Service Sequestration Amendment (PDF)

NIHB IHS Budget Factsheet (PDF)



February 13, 2013

President Obama Nominates REI Chief Executive Sally Jewell for Department of the Interior Secretary

On February 6, President Obama announced the nomination of Sally Jewell, president and CEO of the outdoor and recreational retailer, Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), to replace Ken Salazar as the Department of the Interior Secretary. Last month, Secretary Salazar announced that he will step down by the end of March.

At a 15-minute White House rollout with the President, Jewell said she was "humbled" and "energized" by the appointment. President Obama called Jewell a "strong, capable leader and an expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future." Jewell’s selection drew immediate support from conservation advocates as well as from some oil and gas industry supporters who have criticized the Administration’s policies on energy production. Jewell has advised Republican and Democratic Administrations alike on how to enlist more Americans in outdoor activities, most recently helping to chart a plan for the U.S. National Park Service’s future while she served on the National Park Second Century Commission.



February 13, 2013

House of Representatives Votes in Support of Balanced-Budget Plan

On February 6, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 444 – Require A PLAN Act - legislation that would require President Obama to submit a supplemental budget describing when a balanced budget would be reached if the President’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget proposal does not eliminate the federal deficit.

The House passed the measure by a vote of 253-167, with 26 Democrats breaking from their party to vote in favor of the bill, which is not expected to be taken up by the Democratically-controlled Senate. In support of H.R. 444, House Republicans criticized President Obama for missing the February 4 deadline for sending his budget request to Congress, arguing it’s the fourth time in five years that the deadline has not been met by President Obama. Before passing the measure, the House adopted by voice vote three Republican amendments, including a proposal that would require the supplemental budget to include an estimated cost per taxpayer for each year that a deficit is projected. By a vote of 75-348, the House also rejected an amendment that would have added language stating the balanced budget recommendations of the 2010 Simpson-Bowles commission should from the basis for meeting the requirements of the bill.



January 24, 2013

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Mental Health Services & Prevent Youth Suicide

On January 23, in an effort to improve mental health services for young people and prevent youth suicides, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization bill. The Reauthorization will help improve access to counseling for at-risk teens and promote the development of statewide suicide early intervention and prevention strategies. It will also increase federal funding for competitive grants to help States, colleges, universities, and Tribes improve mental and behavioral health counseling services...

Read More (PDF)



January 24, 2013

Violence Against Women Act Bills Re-introduced in Congress

On January 22, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Michael Crapo (R-ID) introduced S. 47, a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the new 113th Congress. On the same day, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) introduced H.R. 11, a House companion bill identical to the bipartisan Senate bill S. 47...

Read Full Article (PDF)



January 24, 2013

House Passes Legislation to Suspend the Debt Limit

On January 23, the House of Representatives passed debt legislation that would suspend the country’s debt limit through May 18. House Members voted 285-144 to pass H.R. 335, with 86 Democrats supporting the measure and 33 Republicans opposing it.

H.R. 335 automatically increases the current $16.4 trillion ceiling to accommodate additional debt accumulated before May 18. Without action, the federal government would reach its borrowing ceiling as early as mid-February. H.R. 335 would also tie Congressional pay to passage of a budget plan by suspending salaries of House or Senate Members if either chamber does not adopt a budget resolution by April 15.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that the Senate will pass H.R. 335 and the White House has indicated that it will not block the measure. The timing of the Senate vote to pass the measure has not been determined. Stay tuned to www.nihb.org for updates as they develop.



November 27, 2012

NIHB Announces Indian Country Campaign to Stop Sequestration

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) recently launched the Stop Sequestration Now campaign in Indian Country. The purpose of the campaign is to engage Tribes, Tribal organizations and supporters of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) programs to communicate to Congress now about protecting the funding for Indian programs from sequestration.

Under the recently released Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Report to Congress, the entire Indian Health Service (IHS) budget is subject to an 8.2% cut. This across-the-board cut to the IHS budget would result in a loss of $356 million in funding for Indian Health programs. This cut translates into lost funding for primary health care and disease prevention services for AI/ANs. If sequestration occurs, the automatic cuts to federal funding for Indian health programs will have devastating consequences for Indian Country and adversely impact tribal efforts to address health challenges that affect AI/ANs. Sequestration will be triggered on January 2, 2013, if Congress does not enact legislation to stop sequestration.

NIHB has provided a sequestration fact sheet and a sample engagement letter that Tribes can modify and use as they contact their Congressional Members and urge them to take action to stop sequestration. NIHB continues to monitor the situation and will report new information as it develops.

NIHB Sequestration Fact Sheet (PDF)

Sequestration Call To Action Sample Letter



November 19, 2012

Presidential and Congressional Elections Results and Implications

On November 6, 2012, Barack Obama was reelected the 44th President of the United States. President Obama received 332 electoral votes (62 more than the 270 required to win the Presidency) and 51% of the popular vote. Several key "swing states" were crucial to President Obama winning reelection, including: Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. President Obama will be sworn in for his second term on January 21, 2013.

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) expects President Obama and his Administration to continue to be dedicated to a strong and progressive Tribal agenda in the second term. During his first term, President Obama signed into law several important pieces of Indian legislation including the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA). This landmark piece of legislation was passed as part of the larger Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). With the reelection of President Obama, implementation of IHCIA and ACA is guaranteed to continue. NIHB will work diligently to ensure that the Obama Administration continues this commitment to assisting Indian Country with the implementation of ACA and IHCIA. (For more information about the election and ACA implementation, please see NIHB paper State Election Recap: Deadline for Health Insurance Exchange Decision Looms over the State.)...

Read More (PDF)



November 8, 2012

NIHB Announces National Call-In Day Event in Support of SDPI

Read Full Legislative Action Alert (PDF)

Throughout the past year, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) has stressed the importance of reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI). Next week, we need you to take action and speak up in support of SDPI.

On Wednesday, November 14th - World Diabetes Day - please join NIHB and Tribal communities from across the country in asking your Senators and Representatives to support renewal of SDPI this year! Congress will be back in session and we need to make sure that they renew SDPI!

As Tribal leaders in the diabetes community, we are notifying you in advance to help us spread the word about this critical call-to-action. NIHB will send out an Action Alert asking you to call your Members of Congress encouraging their support of SDPI. The Action Alert will provide information how you can contact Congress in this important call-to-action.

Should you have any additional questions or comments, please contact Jeremy Marshall, NIHB Senior Legislative Associate, at (202) 507-4078 or via email at Jmarshall@nihb.org.



NIHB Submits Statement on the Special Diabetes Program for Indians

August 24, 2012

On August 22, the National Indian Health Board submitted an official statement to the Senate Finance Committee in response to the August 8 Field Hearing at Crow Agency, MT, titled: Healing in Indian Country: Ensuring Access to Quality Health Care. The hearing was held at the All-Purpose Building in Crow Agency, MT.

The purpose of the Field Hearing was to address accessing quality health care in Indian Country. In addition to the tribal testimony provided at the Field Hearing, the statement highlights two additional recommendations: Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) reauthorization and protection of the Indian Health Service budget through any cuts enacted through the sequestration process next January.

The Field Hearing also examined the hurdles in providing and maintaining high-quality health care in Indian Country. Long-term underfunding, workforce shortfalls and technical concerns with facilities and equipment can cause conditions to deteriorate in hospitals. Tribal communities face challenges in meeting health needs as Indian Country explores what could be done to ensure better access to quality care.

The SDPI statement will be posted on the Senate Finance Committee website in the coming months as it becomes a part of the official record.

NIHB Field Hearing Statement on SDPI 8.22.12 (PDF)



NIHB Submits Comments on IHS-VA Draft Agreement Summary

On April 4, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) submitted comments to the Indian Health Service (IHS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regarding the agencies’ draft agreement for reimbursement for direct health care services.

Click here to read the comments



NIHB Executive Director Testifies at House Interior Appropriations Hearing on FY 2013 Budget

On March 27th, NIHB Executive Director, Stacy Bohlen, served as a witness at the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies hearing on Native American Programs. Ms. Bohlen testified before Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID), Ranking Member Jim Moran (D-VA), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), and Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) on the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Budget Request for the Indian Health Service (IHS). The President requested a $116 million or 3% increase to IHS, with targeted increases to Contract Health Services, Contract Support Costs, and staffing. NIHB requested that Congressional appropriators find additional, much-needed increases for IHS, ensuring that the final amount appropriated for FY 2013 is closer to the levels requested by the National Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup.

To read Ms. Bohlen’s testimony, click here.






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Legislative Inquiries:

Caitrin Shuy
Director, Congressional Relations

926 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-507-4085
Email: cshuy@nihb.org
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