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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 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 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.



Posted December 24, 2020

Congress Passes Several Significant Native Veteran's Health Bills

Before Congress recessed for the holiday, it passed several significant Native veteran's health bills – the Native American Veterans PACT Act, the Veterans Affairs Tribal Advisory Committee Act and the PRC for Native Veterans Act – that impact the delivery, access, and coordination of healthcare for American Indian and Alaska Native veterans who receive care from both the Indian Health Service (IHS) and Veterans Administration (VA).

Read the full release



December 22, 2020

Congress Seals Massive Spending/Stimulus Deal

After months of impasse in negotiations, and at the 11th hour, Congress clinched a bipartisan and bicameral deal on a roughly $900 billion COVID-19 pandemic stimulus bill. The package is attached to a massive $1.4 trillion Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 omnibus appropriations package - which includes all twelve appropriations bills including the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill that funds the Indian Health Service (IHS). Alongside the stimulus and appropriations package is the surprise billing package provides the federal cost savings to pay for a 3-year extension of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI).

Read more



Posted December 8, 2020

NIHB, NCAI and NCUIH Send Joint Letter to Congressional Leaders Urging passage of Native Veterans Bills

The National Indian Health Board, alongside the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) sent a letter to Congressional leadership on December 4, 2020. The letter urges passage of Native Veterans bills including legislation to establish a Tribal Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) and legislation to eliminate copays for Native Veterans, and to ensure the VA is fully reimbursing the Indian Health Service (IHS) and Tribes for services authorized under Purchased/Referred Care.

Read the full letter.



Posted December 8, 2020

NIHB, NCAI and NCUIH Send Joint Letter to Congressional Leaders on COVID-19 Relief for Indian Country

The National Indian Health Board, alongside the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) sent a letter to Congressional leadership on December 4, 2020. The letter urges Congress to include direct health relief funding to Tribes, including for vaccine distribution, COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, third-party reimbursement shortfall relief, and other provisions.

Read the full letter.



Posted November 16, 2020

NIHB Leads Efforts on Joint Letter to Indian Health Service Regarding Expanding Tribal Self-Determination and Self-Governance Authority for Special Diabetes Program for Indians

On Friday, November 13, NIHB was joined by ten Tribes and Tribal organizations in a letter submitted to Indian Health Service (IHS) Director Weahkee and members of Congress outlining the Tribes' final and official position on a legislative amendment to the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) to permit Tribes and Tribal organizations to receive SDPI awards through Title I self-determination contracts or Title V self-governance compacts.

Read the full letter



November 10, 2020

Senate Releases All Twelve Appropriations Bills for Fiscal Year 2021

Earlier today, Tuesday, November 10, 2020, the Senate Appropriations Committee released all twelve appropriations bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. Release of the spending bills follows months of gridlock on FY 2021 appropriations, forcing Congress to pass a continuing resolution (CR) keeping the federal government open through December 11, 2020.

Read more



Posted November 10, 2020

NIHB sends letter to USCCR Regarding Withholding of COVID-19 Report

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) has submitted a letter to the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) to express concern about their recent decision to not release a report that detailed COVID-19’s impact on Indian Country. In the letter we expressed our belief that this report contains information that would be vital for helping Tribal leaders respond to the pandemic, through both direct action and advocacy for policy changes. We are deeply disappointed in this decision and the lack of justification provided for it. We hope that the USCCR reverses this decision and releases their report.

Read the full letter



Posted November 3, 2020

NIHB Briefs Stakeholders on the Importance of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians

On Tuesday, October 27 the National Indian Health Board (NIHB), along with the Endocrine Society and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), hosted a virtual briefing to educate Congressional staff about the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) and the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) and its importance of extending both programs before the continuing resolution expires on December 11, 2020. Together, all three organizations are advocating for a long-term reauthorization of 5 year and $150 million per program per year.

Earlier in October, the Indian Health Service (IHS) announced the release of their 2020 Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) Report to Congress, Changing the Course of Diabetes: Charting Remarkable Progress. This new report highlights SDPI's ongoing and outstanding contributions to improvements in diabetes care and health outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people. In the report, Ann Bullock, Director of the IHS Division of Diabetes states, "These improvements have huge implications for quality of life and health care costs. Sustained efforts in diabetes prevention and treatment are critical to ensuring continued advances in the health of AI/AN people. The SDPI has been, and continues to be, key to this remarkable progress." A recording of the virtual briefing may be viewed here.



Posted October 22, 2020

NIHB joined by partner organizations in letter to IHS regarding National Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup

On Tuesday. October 13, 2020, National Indian Health Board (NIHB) submitted a letter to Indian Health Service (IHS) Director Michael D. Weahkee outlining NIHB’s strong concerns with loss of NIHB’s funding to support the critical work of the National Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup (TBFWG). For decades, NIHB has been entrusted by Tribal Nations to help facilitate the national convening of the TBFWG and in drafting and publishing an annual budget book detailing the priorities and recommendations of Tribes across Indian Country towards a fully funded and operational Indian health system. NIHB was joined by Alaska Native Health Board, Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board, Association of American Indian Physicians, California Rural Indian Health Board, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, Southern Plains Tribal Health Board and United South & Eastern Tribes, Inc. as signatories on this letter.

Read the letter



September 30, 2020

Congress Sends Short-Term FY 2021 Continuing Resolution to President's Desk

Earlier today, Wednesday, September 30, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the short-term continuing resolution (CR) that cleared the U.S. House of Representatives last week. The final vote was 84-10.

As NIHB reported, this CR, filed under H.R. 8319, would flat fund the federal government at FY 2020 enacted levels through December 11, 2020. It would also extend the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) through December 11 - equaling the fifth short-term extension of the program in just the past year. The President is set to sign the CR before midnight, when the next fiscal year officially begins.

Read More



September 21, 2020

House Introduces Short-Term Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2021

Earlier today, Monday, September 21, 2020, the House of Representatives released a short-term continuing resolution (CR) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 under H.R. 8319, in hopes of avoiding a government shutdown at the end of the month and funding the federal government at current levels through December 11, 2020. The CR includes an extension of multiple expiring health programs including the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) through December 11, the expiration date for the CR itself. This would equal the fifth short-term extension of SDPI in just the past year alone. With SDPI's current reauthorization set to expire on November 30, this extension under H.R. 8319 would last eleven days.

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Posted September 14, 2020

NIHB sends Joint Letter to Congressional Leadership for extension of SDPI and other health provisions

On Friday September 11, NIHB submitted a letter to Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, House Minority Leader McCarthy, and Senate Minority Leader Schumer, urging immediate action in support of a 5-year extension of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) and other expiring health extenders. These include the National Health Service Corps, Community Health Center Fund, and Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education. NIHB was joined by seventeen signatories including but not limited to JDRF, Endocrine Society, National Association of Community Health Centers, American Diabetes Association, Families USA, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Read the full letter.



Posted September 11, 2020

NIHB sends letter urging IHS to retract and correct its TA to Congress regarding funding methods for SDPI

Earlier today, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) sent a letter to the Indian Health Service (IHS) regarding the Technical Assistance it provided to Congress on the funding mechanisms for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) in July.

The letter urges IHS to retract its misleading TA, and instead work with Tribes to advance the proven method of self-determination and self-governance in furtherance of federal Treaty obligations to Tribal Nations and AI/AN Peoples.

Read the full letter.



Posted September 9, 2020

NIHB Leads Efforts for a Joint Letter to Congressional Leadership on Pandemic Relief Funding

On September 8, NIHB submitted a letter to congressional leadership alongside the National Congress of American Indians and National Council of Urban Indian Health urging immediate action on critical Tribal health priorities in response to COVID-19. In particular, the inter-organizational letter led by NIHB calls on Congress to immediately pass:

  • Minimum $2 billion in emergency funds to IHS for immediate distribution to the I/T/U system
  • Minimum $1 billion to replenish lost 3rd party reimbursements across the I/T/U system
  • Prioritize equitable distribution of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine across Indian Country, including a minimum 5% set-aside in vaccine funds for the I/T/U system
  • Minimum $1 billion for water and sanitation systems across IHS and Tribal communities
  • Passage of the bipartisan S.3937 – Special Diabetes Program for Indians Reauthorization Act of 2020

Read the full letter



Posted July 30, 2020

NIHB Sends Letter to Congressional Appropriators Urging Dedicated Funding to Indian Country for COVID-19 Vaccines

On July 30, 2020, NIHB joined by the National Congress of American Indians and National Council of Urban Indian Health submitted a letter to House and Senate appropriators urging them to ensure a minimum 5% statutory set-aside in funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution for the Indian Health Service, Tribal Nations, and urban Indian organizations in this next COVID-19 pandemic relief package.

Read the full letter here.



Posted July 29, 2020

NIHB Leads Efforts for Joint Letter to Congress Opposing Policy Changes to Medicaid FMAP

On Tuesday July 27, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) sent joint a letter to Congress firmly opposing any policy that would undo decades of precedent in federal Medicaid policy towards Tribal Nations by extending 100% Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to States for Medicaid services rendered by providers outside the Indian health system to American Indians/Alaska Natives. This policy would seek to stabilize state Medicaid programs at the direct expense of the Indian health system, and runs contrary to federal trust and treaty obligations.

NIHB joined Tribal Nations, National Congress of American Indians, National Council of Urban Indian Health, and multiple regional Tribal organizations in this important advocacy. NIHB encourages all Tribal Nations and organizations to join us in showing that Indian Country is uniformly opposed to this provision by sending similar letters. Please find this template letter on NIHB's Tribal COVID-19 Resource Center. Read the joint letter here.



Posted July 22, 2020

National Indian Health Board Supports House Bill to Require Veterans Health Administration to Reimburse Indian Health Providers

WASHINGTON, DC—July 22, 2020—The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Acting Chairman William Smith testified today before the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States (SCIP) for a legislative hearing on the “PRC for Native Veterans Act” (H.R. 6237). This critical bill would amend the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to clarify that the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Department of Defense are required to reimburse the Indian Health Service (IHS) and Tribal health programs for healthcare services provided to Native veterans through an authorized referral. Acting Chairman Smith, who is a Vietnam veteran, stressed that third-party reimbursement adds funds to the IHS Purchase/Referred Care (PRC) system so specialty services can be purchased and reiterated that the government has a dual responsibility to Native veterans.

Read the full release



Posted July 17, 2020

National Indian Health Board Cites Failed U.S. Policies Toward American Indians for Severe COVID-19 Impacts in Testimony Before U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

WASHINGTON, DC—July 17, 2020— The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Acting Chairman William Smith from the Valdez Native Tribe of Alaska testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights as part of a virtual public briefing, titled: COVID-19 in Indian Country: The Impact of Federal Broken Promises on Native Americans. In his oral remarks before the Commission, Acting Chairman Smith discussed the federal government’s failure to fulfill its treaty obligations to the Tribes for healthcare and public health, made evident by chronic underfunding of Indian Health Service (IHS), paternalistic oversight over Tribal programs and reluctance to expand self-determination and self-governance policies across federal agencies. The federal government’s failure to honor treaty obligations is directly tied to the disproportionate and extreme impacts of COVID-19 in Indian Country.

Read the full press release.



Posted July 9, 2020

Appropriations Committee Releases FY 2021 Report with Line ItemHouse Totals for IHS Budget

Each IHS Line Item Received At Least Slight Increase Over FY 2020 Levels

As NIHB reported earlier this week , the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 spending bill, proposing to fund Indian Health Service (IHS) at just under $6.5 billion, an increase of $445 million overall above the FY 2020 enacted budget...

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Posted July 6, 2020

House Releases FY 2021 Budget for Indian Health Service

House FY 2021 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill proposes funding Indian Health Service at $6.5 billion, with a separate, additional $1.5 billion in emergency funds for IHS Facilities

On Monday, July 6, 2020 the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 spending bill, which has jurisdiction over the Indian Health Service (IHS) budget. Posting of the FY 2021 Interior spending bill follows the rapid release of four other FY 2021 spending bills earlier today and on Sunday July 5, in line with the full Committee's goal of marking up all twelve FY 2021 appropriations packages this week after months of inaction on appropriations due to the COVID-19 pandemic...

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Posted July 2, 2020

NIHB Continues to Educate Lawmakers, Requests Support from Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on Coronavirus Tribal Health Priorities

WASHINGTON, DC—July 1, 2020—Today, National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Secretary Lisa Elgin from the Manchester-Pt. Arena Band of Pomo Indians in California testified virtually before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) during a hearing to "Evaluate the Response and Mitigation to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Native Communities." Secretary Elgin outlined top Tribal health and public health priorities in response to COVID-19 – some of which fall squarely under the Committee's jurisdiction, and others that rely on individual members to work with their colleagues serving on other committees.

"The National Indian Health Board continues to educate lawmakers on the devasting impacts of COVID-19 in Tribal communities. We urge increases to relief funding to address pressing Tribal health and public health priorities like water and sanitation, telehealth, electronic health records and reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians," said NIHB Secretary Elgin, who also serves as the chairperson for the California Rural Indian Health Board.

Read the full release.





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