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Indian Health Care Act introduced in House
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Filed Under: Health

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act on Tuesday.

Led by Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-West Virginia), Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-New Jersey) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the lawmakers said the bill would modernize the Indian Health Service. They said reauthorization of the IHCIA, which expired in 2000, was long overdue.

"We should not be debating, year after year, whether or not a live-saving program like the Indian Health Care Improvement Act merits reauthorization," said Rahall, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which has scheduled a March 14 hearing on the bill.

"Many Native Americans are forced to endure a level of health care that is far below the general population," added Pallone, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, which will also consider the measure.

"Our legislation responds to the changes that have occurred in the delivery of Indian health services in the decade since the last reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act," said Young.

According to the lawmakers, H.R.1328 improves the IHCIA through the following:
• Provisions designed to aid in recruitment and retention of medical professionals for Indian health programs;
• Authorization for more efficient and cost-effective methods of health care delivery;
• Greater roles for tribes in health care delivery, including local-priority setting;
• Authorization for a nationally certified Community Health Aide Program to supply medical care in underserved, remote areas;
• Innovative options for funding of the Indian Health Service;
• Consolidation of substance abuse, mental health, and social services programs into a holistic system for behavioral health services;
• Amendments to the Social Security Act to improve access to Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children's Health Insurance programs for Indians and Alaska Natives.

The text of the legislation is not yet available in Thomas, the Congressional database.

Relevant Documents:
Letter to Bush | Letter to Alberto Gonzales | DOJ White Paper

Relevant Links:
Indian Health Service - http://www.ihs.gov
National Indian Health Board - http://www.nihb.org

Related Stories:
Hearings on Indian Health Care Improvement Act (3/5)
Democrats promise action at USET conference (2/14)
Harjo: GOP calls Indian health care 'race-based' (2/12)
Tribes forced to ration funds for health services (2/2)
Interview: Inadequate health care in Indian Country (01/16)
Joint hearing on Indian health care act postponed (11/14)
Final push for health care bill in 109th Congress (11/13)
White House hit over delays in health care and Cobell (10/05)
Still no Indian Health Care Improvement Act (09/22)
New Standard: U.S. failing to deliver health care (7/18)
Senate panel advances Indian health care measure (10/28)
Senate committee takes up slate of Indian bills (10/27)
Hearing on Indian Health Care Improvement Act (07/13)
Oklahoma senator loses Indian health care vote (06/29)

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