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COVID-19 TRIBAL RESOURCE CENTER

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 Action Alerts are only sent to your inbox when legislation relevant to Indian health is introduced, debated, or voted upon. These timely alerts will provide background information and a pathway for you to get involved in the issue at hand.

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 educate members of Congress on the federal trust responsibility for health. We also endeavor to ensure Tribes, Tribal members, and advocates have accurate and up-to-date information related to Congressional action on Tribal healthcare issues...


2021 NIHB Legislative and Policy Agenda

Roadmap for Biden Administration to Advance American Indian/Alaska Native Health and Public Health


What's New?

Posted June 1, 2021

President Biden Releases his FY 2022 Congressional Justification

On May 28, President Joseph R. Biden released the Congressional Justification for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Presidential Budget. The Congressional Justification is the second part of the President’s FY 2022 Discretionary Budget. The first part was the President's FY 2022 Budget Request that was released on April 9, 2021, and provided an overview of the President’s budget priorities. The Congressional Justification provides a more in-depth analysis of the President’s budget requests and proposed funding levels for various federal agencies.

Read NIHB’s analysis of the budget here.



Posted May 19, 2021

NIHB Submits Testimony to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on Tribal COVID Experiences and Lessons Learned

NIHB submitted written testimony for the record to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in response to a May 19 hearing on "COVID-19 Health Care Flexibilities: Perspectives, Experiences, and Lessons Learned." The hearing focused on the flexibilities to healthcare access that were created in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, and hear recommendations on which new policies should be made permanent post-pandemic. NIHB’s testimony focused on Medicare and Medicaid flexibilities dealing with Medicaid reimbursement and telehealth waivers in Indian Country. Read NIHB’s full testimony here and watch the hearing on the committee website here.



Posted May 17, 2021

NIHB Submits Testimony to the Department of Health and Human Services

On May 7, the National Indian Health Board submitted written testimony to the Department of Health and Human Services for the fiscal year 2023 National Tribal Budget Consultation. The testimony outlined Tribal funding requests for various departments throughout HHS including the Indian Health Service, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Office of Minority Health.

Read NIHB’s full testimony here.



Posted April 18, 2021

NIHB Chairman William Smith Testifies before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

On April 14, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing on "Examining the COVID-19 Response in Native Communities: Native Health System One Year Later." National Indian Health Board Chairman William Smith of the Valdez Native Tribe testified. Visit the Committee website for the full hearing recording. Read NIHB’s written testimony here.



Posted April 18, 2021

NIHB Joins NCAI Infrastructure Letter to Congress

On April 13, 2021, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) joined 29 other Tribal organizations in a letter led by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) outlining the immediate infrastructure needs in Indian Country in response to President Biden’s March 31 announcement of the $2 trillion American Jobs Plan. The letter was submitted to all Congressional committees of jurisdiction, Congressional leadership, and the White House.

NIHB’s asks focused on healthcare facilities infrastructure, public health infrastructure, Tribal health workforce development, and funding and implementation of unfunded provisions in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. This includes full funding of the Indian Health Service (IHS) at $48 billion, over $31 billion for healthcare facilities construction, $10 billion for a non-competitive Tribal graduate medical education program, a $6 billion Tribal set-aside for medical residency programs, $3 billion for electronic health records and health information technology modernization, and $2.3 billion for Tribal public health infrastructure.

As Congress and the Biden Administration draft the $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, NIHB continues to advocate for further investments in the Indian health system. The full inter-organization letter can be read here.



Posted April 18, 2021

NIHB sends letter of support to Rep. Ruiz for H.R. 1888

On March 9, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) submitted a letter (link in new window to attached letter) of support to Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-CA) for his bill the Improving Access to Indian Health Services Act (H.R. 1888). This bill would resolve the ongoing four walls issue which prevents Indian, Tribal and Urban Indian Health Organizations (I/T/U) from receiving full reimbursement from Medicaid for services provided outside of the “four walls” of a health facility for Medicaid enrollees. Additionally, this bill provides a permanent extension of the Medicaid 100% Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to Urban Indian Organizations, a benefit that Tribal and Indian Health Services already receive. The bill was recently included in a House Energy and Commerce legislative hearing on March 23 and continues to work its way through Congress. NIHB supports the bill and will monitor its progress. of this bill and assist Congress in any way to ensure its passage.



Posted April 18, 2021

NIHB Comments on OMB's Tribal Consultation Plan

On April 9, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) submitted comments to the Office of Budget Management (OMB) on the recent Tribal consultation that took place on April 2nd and 5th regarding the development of the OMB’s new Tribal consultation plan. Some highlights from these comments include the need for Tribes to request consultation with OMB at any time, the need for OMB to sporadically measure how well other federal agencies are honoring the trust responsibility, the need for top level leadership at OMB to be accessible to Tribal leaders, and the need for OMB to work with Tribes and federal agencies to determine the correct amount of funding being offered with the most sufficient distribution method for Tribes. Overall, NIHB’s comments expressed the specific need of a government-to-government relationship that OMB should strive for when creating policy and legislation pertaining to Tribes and Tribal citizens.



Posted April 16, 2021

NIHB Submits Testimony to House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior

On April 16, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) submitted written testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior. This committee has jurisdiction over the appropriation of funds for the Indian Health Service (IHS). In the testimony, NIHB outlined the FY 2022 budget needs of IHS based on the fiscal year (FY) 2022 National Budget Formulation Work Group recommendations. The recommendations include a phase-in of full funding for IHS at $48 Billion over ten years with $12.759 Billion for FY 2022 as the first year of that phase in and the passage of advanced appropriations for the IHS to protect IHS operations from government shutdowns. The testimony goes more in-depth on the top priorities within the $12.759 Billion for IHS, including hospitals and clinics, purchased and referred care, health information technology, mental health and substance abuse, facilities, and 105(l) lease expenditures.

Read the full testimony.



Posted April 13, 2021

President's Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request: Indian Health Summary

On April 9, President Biden's discretionary budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 was released to Congress. The budget request proposes $769 billion in non-defense discretionary funding, which is a 16% increase over the FY 2021 enacted level, and $753 billion for national defense programs -- a 1.7% increase. Additionally, the request includes $131.7 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services, a $25 billion or 23.5% increase from the 2021 enacted level. Later this spring, the Administration intends to release a detailed version of the budget request.

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) compiled the Indian Health provisions included across several agencies within the President's proposed budget request.



Posted March 23, 2021

National Indian Health Board Outlines Tribal Heath Priorities in Testimony on the Year-in-Review of COVID-19

On March 23, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Chairman William Smith testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States on "A Year in Review: The State of COVID-19 in American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Communities—Lessons Learned for Future Action." Chairman Smith identified several policy priorities needed to help American Indian and Alaska Native communities protect and prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic, including full funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS), investing in water and sanitation infrastructure and expanding telehealth and behavioral health support.

Read the full press release



Posted March 23, 2021

NIHB Submits Testimony on the VA Hospital System to the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs

On March 18, NIHB submitted written testimony to Veterans Affairs Committees in the Senate and House of Representatives in response to a hearing held on March 3 titled "Joint Hearing on Legislative Presentations of Veterans Service Organizations." NIHB’s testimony outlines the shortcomings of the Veterans Affairs hospital system as they pertain to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans. The hearing can be viewed on the House Veterans Affairs Committee website here. Read NIHB’s written testimony here.



Posted March 12, 2021

NIHB Joined by Nine National Native Organizations in Letter to President Joe Biden to Request Prioritization of American Indians and Alaska Natives in Washington, DC Metropolitan Area for COVID-19 Vaccines

On Monday, March 8, 2021, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) was joined by nine national Native organizations in a letter submitted to President Joe Biden, requesting that the Administration swiftly and effectively deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to the American Indian and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) living in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area, as well as all urban Indians. The NIHB Board of Directors passed Resolution 21-01: Promoting and Prioritizing AI/ANs in the DC Metropolitan Area for the COVID-19 Vaccine on February 26, 2021. NIHB was joined in this effort by the National Council of Urban Indian Health, Native American Lifelines (the only urban Indian clinic in the Washington DC Area, located in Baltimore), National Indian Education Association, National American Indian Housing Council, Native American Finance Officers’ Association, Native American Contractors Association, National Indian Gaming Association, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, and the National Congress of American Indians.

Read the full letter.



Posted March 12, 2021

NIHB submits Testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee for Telehealth Hearing

On Tuesday, March 2, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) submitted testimony for the record for the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing "The Future of Telehealth: How COVID-19 is Changing the Delivery of Virtual Care." In the testimony, NIHB outlines the successes of telehealth in Indian Country while underscoring the need for further investment beyond the pandemic.

The Health Subcommittee hearing, held on March 2, focused on how to leverage the advances in telehealth made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic beyond the public health emergency. Witnesses testified that telehealth has the capacity to increase access and quality of care when it comes to chronic health conditions, especially in areas where healthcare services can be limited, such as rural and Tribal communities.

You can read the full testimony here and listen to the full hearing on the House Energy and Commerce website here.



Posted March 12, 2021

The U.S. Senate Passes the American Rescue Plan Act

On Saturday, March 6, the U.S. Senate passed their version of the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, along a party-line vote 50-49. The Senate’s version is expected to pass the House of Representatives later this week and be signed into law by President Biden no later than Sunday, March 14. NIHB is excited that our recommendations to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs were heard and the Tribal provisions were not changed from the House of Representatives version of the ARP.NIHB

Download NIHB's Analysis of American Rescue Plan



Posted March 8, 2021

National Indian Health Board Releases 2021 Legislative and Policy Agenda, Roadmap for Biden Administration

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) released its annual Legislative and Policy Agenda listing Tribal health-related administrative and legislative requests for 24 issues areas ranging from COVID-19 response and recovery and increased telehealth capacity to full funding for the Indian Health Service and improving water and sanitation infrastructure as an integral public health measure. The NIHB Board of Directors adopted the Agenda along with a Roadmap for the Biden Administration on February 26, 2021.

NIHB’s 2021 Legislative and Policy Agenda highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it a disproportionate impact on American Indian and Alaska Native people and illuminated many of the disparities Tribes experience, which have led to worse COVID-19 outcomes.

NIHB’s Roadmap for the Biden Administration to Advance American Indian and Alaska Native Health and Public Health focuses on six areas: Supporting the Government to Government Relationship, Supporting Tribal Sovereignty, Supporting Workforce Development, Studying and Addressing Long-Term Issues and Pressing Problems, and Advancing Legislative Priorities.

Read the full press release.



Posted February 26, 2021

NIHB Submits Testimony to House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on Tribal Priorities for COVID-19 Vaccines

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) submitted written testimony in response to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing "Road to Recovery: Ramping up COVID-19 Vaccines, Testing and Medical Supply Chain" held on February 3, 2021. NIHB strongly urged the House Energy and Commerce Committee to ensure a minimum 5% direct set-aside of total healthcare funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS), Tribal nations, and urban Indian organizations. Since the pandemic hit the United States in March 2020, American Indians and Alaska Natives have continued to sufferer increased COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates when compared to the general population while receiving care at historically underfunded facilities.

Read the full testimony.



Posted February 22, 2021

Join NIHB in Support of Congresswoman Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior

The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is holding a hearing on Tuesday, February 23 at 9:30 AM EST to consider the nomination of Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM) to be Secretary of the Interior. Follow the link to watch the hearing: https://www.energy.senate.gov/live-webcast.

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) fully supports Congresswoman Haaland's nomination. In December 2020, the NIHB Board of Directors sent a letter to then-President Elect Biden endorsing Congresswoman Haaland as the Secretary of the Interior as well as issued a press statement.

Ahead of the confirmation hearing on Feb. 23, NIHB encourages Tribal leaders, advocates, and community members to call the Senators urging a confirmation vote. NIHB has provided phone numbers and talking points.



Posted February 12, 2021

NIHB Supports Budget Reconciliation Package with Letter to Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

On Friday, February 12, NIHB sent a letter to Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) expressing support for the budget reconciliation package proposed by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Mirroring the House budget recommendations, it included:

  • $5.484 billion for Indian Health Service
  • $2 billion third-party relief
  • $1.5 billion for testing, tracing, Personal Protective Equipment
  • $600 million for vaccine education and distribution
  • $600 million health care facilities
  • $500 million Purchased/Referred Care
  • $420 million mental/behavioral health services
  • $240 million public health workforce
  • $140 million electronic health records/telehealth infrastructure
  • $84 million Urban Indian health
  • $10 million potable water delivery

Read the full letter.



Posted February 11, 2021

NIHB Submits Letter of Support for House Energy and Commerce Budget Reconciliation Legislation

On Thursday, February 11th, NIHB submitted a letter of support to the House Energy and Commerce Committee for the inclusion of Tribal health priorities in their Budget Reconciliation legislation. The legislation, which is being marked up Thursday, February 11th and Friday, February 12th, invests $6.094 billion in Tribal health priorities including:

  • $5.484 billion for Indian Health Service
  • $2 billion 3rd party relief
  • $1.5 billion for testing, tracing, Personal Protective Equipment
  • $600 million for vaccine education and distribution
  • $600 million health care facilities
  • $500 million Purchased/Referred Care
  • $420 million mental/behavioral health services
  • $240 million public health workforce
  • $140 million electronic health records/telehealth infrastructure
  • $84 million Urban Indian health
  • $10 million potable water delivery

Read the full letter.



Posted February 11, 2021

NIHB Joins Letter to President Biden Requesting an Immediate Halt to the Dakota Access Pipeline

On Tuesday, February 9th, the National Indian Health (NIHB) joined 13 other Tribal organizations in a letter to President Biden requesting an immediate halt to the construction and operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The letter echoes a January 19th letter from the Standing Rock Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, Oglala Sioux, and Yankton Sioux Tribes, where they outline the illegality of the current construction and operation of the DAPL given the lack of an environmental impact study with Tribal consultation. A January 26th ruling from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals also affirmed the need for a comprehensive environmental review before the approval of such projects and that the pipeline's easement violated Tribal rights. NIHB Resolution 16-02, Supporting Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Opposition to Dakota Access Pipeline affirms it as a threat to the water supply, health and well-being of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Tribal communities.



Posted February 3, 2021

NIHB signs on to Joint Letter to Congress Regarding Tribal Priorities

On Tuesday, February 2, 2021, the National Indian Health Board joined the National Congress of American IndiansNational Council of Urban Indian Health and fifteen Tribal organizations in a letter to Congress to ensure that Indian Country's COVID-19 concerns and priorities are comprehensively addressed in the next relief package.

The Tribal health priorities outlined in the letter are as follows:

  • Minimum $8 billion directly related to the COVID-19 public health response to the Indian/Tribal/Urban (I/T/U) system including:
    • Minimum $1 billion vaccination distribution and implementation
    • Minimum $250 million in COVID-19 testing
    • Minimum $200 million for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), medical supplies, and the deployment of supplement medical personnel
  • Minimum $1 billion for Native veterans' health through the Veterans Health Administration
  • Minimum $200 million tribal set aside for support of mental and behavioral health programs
  • Minimum $40 million tribal set aside for programs that serve as response to domestic abuse
  • Minimum $3 billion in funds to replenish third party revenue loss in the I/T/U system
  • Minimum $2.67 billion for the construction and improvement of water and sanitation infrastructure for the I/T/U system and Tribal communities
  • Extend full (100 percent) Federal Medical Assistance Percentage to Urban Indian Organizations
  • Permanently extend waivers under Medicare for the use of telehealth

Read the full letter.



Posted February 2, 2021

NIHB sends Letters to Congressional Leadership Outlining Tribal Priorities

With the release of President Biden's American Rescue Plan proposal to combat the COVID-19 Pandemic, the National Indian Health Board has sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Schumer and House Speaker Pelosi outlining legislative priorities to address the dire public health concerns that face Indian Country during this time.

Read NIHB's Letter to the Senate.

Read NIHB's Letter to the House.





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Legislative Inquiries:

Erin Morris
Congressional Relations Associate

910 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-507-4085
Email: [email protected]