Sign on to Letters Supporting Indian Health Service Advance Appropriations

The National Indian Health Board and a coalition of Tribes, Tribal organizations, and other partners are working with Congress and the Administration to include fiscal year (FY) 2024 advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service (IHS) in any final agreement on the FY 2023 appropriation bills.

An advance appropriation is a commitment by Congress to provide money in a future year. For example, if the final FY 2023 appropriation bill for the IHS includes an advance appropriation for FY 2024, then IHS would receive its FY 2024 budget at the start of the fiscal year regardless of any looming government shutdown or temporary, “stopgap” funding measure.

One of the federal government’s primary regulators, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), reported budgetary uncertainty hurts the ability to recruit and retain quality doctors and nurses and adds additional administrative costs that could otherwise be used for patient care. The longest government shutdown in history occurred only four years ago. Tribal healthcare programs were forced to reduce their hours, days, or types of services, faced staff resignations, and had other impacts on patient care.

It shouldn’t be this way. The IHS is the only major federal healthcare program exposed to government shutdowns and temporary, “stopgap” funding. Veterans’ healthcare is already protected by advance appropriations. Medicare and Medicaid are already protected by mandatory funding. Yet, for some reason, the federal government continues to tolerate the healthcare hardships for Tribes. This tolerance is inequitable, it is discriminatory, and it needs to stop now.

The fix is simple but motivating Congress to act is not. No other issue under consideration in the remainder of the 117th Congress has as much of a direct benefit on American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) lives, has as much bipartisan support, and is as close to enactment as advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service. 

To succeed, it requires a coordinated effort from Tribes, advocacy organizations, the public, members of Congress, and the White House. Please join NIHB in sending Tribal coalition letters to Congressional Leadership and the White House.

Click HERE to sign onto the letters. The extended deadline to sign up is Tuesday, November 22, 2022. 

For more information on this topic, please visit NIHB’s Advance Appropriations webpage or contact Darren Benjamin, Interim Director of Congressional Relations, at [email protected]

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To learn more about 2023 National Native American Heritage Month, or for media inquiries, please contact Ned Johnson at [email protected].

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