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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NIHB Board of Directors Take Action to Support Tribal Sovereignty

NIHB Alaska Area Representative William Smith, NIHB CEO, Stacy A. Bohlen, and NIHB Vice Chairperson and Great Plains Area Representative Victoria Kitcheyan

With recent threats to Tribal sovereignty in mind, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Board of Directors used the occasion of its fourth quarter Board meeting (November 8-9, 2018, Alexandria, VA) to take action in support of Tribes throughout Indian Country.

NIHB Vice Chair Victoria Kitcheyan (Great Plains Area) presided over the meeting and facilitated discussion on the ongoing threat to Tribes posed by the Administration’s misapplication of a civil rights framework in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) determinations related to state work requirements. While the Agency’s refusal to grant an exemption or accommodation to Tribes (announced in January 2018) creates the potential for a catastrophic funding shortfall to the overall Indian health system, the faulty legal reasoning behind the Agency’s refusal sets an equally harmful precedent which undermines foundational principles of federal Indian law.

In essence, the Agency has indicated they believe that they are unable to grant an exemption to Tribes and American Indian and Alaska Native people because doing so would provide different treatment to a group based on race. The NIHB Board of Directors and Tribal advocates have made great efforts to educate the Agency and provide the correct, long-standing, and well-settled legal analysis that makes explicit that Tribes are not a racial group, but in fact a distinct political group, recognized as such in the Constitution and treaties, and reaffirmed in Supreme Court case law, statute, regulation and Executive Orders.

NIHB’s Board of Directors approved two (2) resolutions to continue the organization’s efforts. Resolution 18-17 calls on Congress to enact legislation ensuring Medicaid advances the federal trust responsibility to American Indians/Alaska Natives. Resolution 18- 19 supports an exemption for Indian Health Service (IHS) eligible beneficiaries from Medicaid work and community engagement requirements.

The Board discussed, considered, and approved other resolutions to strengthen Tribal sovereignty and self-determination. The Board passed a resolution to support the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board in its efforts to assume management of the Sioux San Hospital under Title 5 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act with Resolution 18-18. The Board also moved to oppose a reduction of the number of Commissioned Corps officers from 6,500 to 4,000 as proposed by the Office of Management and Budget with Resolution 18-20. The Board of NIHB also passed Resolution 18-21 to support the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in light of recent targeted and strategic attacks in the courts and media. Lastly, Resolution 18-22 requests an improvement in the reporting of American Indian and Alaska Native data currently collected by the American Community Survey (ACS) of the US Census.

During the meeting, the Board also met with federal officials from the Substance and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Minority Health, Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian Health Service. This included a meeting with RADM Michael Weakhee, Principal Deputy Director of the Indian Health Service. Board members engaged in discussions with agency representatives and shared information on their Area priorities, activities and areas of urgent need. NIHB CEO Stacy A. Bohlen provided a briefing on NIHB activities advancing the organization’s Strategic Map.

NIHB Board of Directors 2019 Meetings:

1st Quarter- February 26th-28th, 2019, Washington, DC
2nd Quarter- June 11th-13th, 2019, Washington, DC
3rd Quarter- September 15th, Pechanga, CA
4th Quarter- November 13th-15th, 2019, Washington, DC

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