Groups praise passage of Indian Health Care Act
The nation's largest inter-tribal and Indian health organizations welcomed Senate passage of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act on Tuesday.

The National Congress of American Indians, the National Indian Health Board and the National Council of Urban Indian Health lobbied strongly for S.1200. The bill ,for the first time in more than a decade, updates the delivery of services to American Indians and Alaska Natives.

"It's about time and I applaud the Senate for this historic vote," said NCAI President Joe A. Garcia. "Federal prisoners continue to receive better health care than Native people and this is a major step in reversing that alarming statistic."

The bill passed by a vote of 83-10. It took the Senate more than four days over the past two months to consider and resolve a number of issues and amendments.

"We have been working for nearly ten years to reauthorize the bill," said NIHB Chair Sally Smith. "We appreciate the leadership of Senators [Byron] Dorgan (D-ND) and [Lisa] Murkowski (R-AK) and other key Senators on both sides of the aisle that made passage by the Senate a reality. Indian Country will continue to work with the House leadership to ensure a final bill can be sent to the President for his signature."

President Bush has threatened to veto the legislation, citing provisions affecting urban Indians and other issues. Indian leaders said they hope the bill addresses the concerns as the House takes up its version.

"The reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act will help to provide a higher level of care to all American Indians and Alaska Natives no matter where they live," said Georgianna Ignace, President of the National Council of Urban Indian Health. "As such we are both pleased and proud of the bi-partisanship displayed by the Senate in making such essential legislation a success."

Get the Story:
Senate OKs Indian health update (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 2/27)
Native health care gets major reworking (The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 2/27)
Senate backs overhaul bill that 'will save lives' (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 2/27)
Senate passes bill to improve health care on Indian reservations (AP 2/27)
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White House Document:
Statement of Administration Policy (January 22, 2008)

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

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