Washington Report

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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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Councilman Spoonhunter Testimony

Councilman Lee Spoonhunter, NIHB Board Member representing the Billings Area, testified to the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs Thursday, July 27, 2023. The legislative hearing discussed the draft legislation: Restoring Accountability in the Indian Health Service (IHS) Act of 2023.

According to the Committee, this hearing was held, in part, to address the Indian Health Service’s history of “substandard medical care, high staff vacancy rates, aging facilities and equipment, and unqualified or predatory healthcare staff.”

“There is no amount of red tape that can patch an underfunded system,” said Spoonhunter. “Imagine having only one day’s worth of food for a week: for generations. The funding of IHS at 1/7th the estimate of the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup sets us up for failure.”

Spoonhunter testified that NIHB is supportive of the intent of this bill to address policy concerns at the IHS. However, more work is needed before any amendments are made to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. The draft bill has many well-intended provisions that seek to address past misconduct and a lack of accountability at the IHS, but these good intentions could have the potential to impact Tribally operated health facilities.

To view the hearing and view additional information on the draft legislation, click here.

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