Health

Indian Health Service extends comment period on emergency fund






The new Cherokee Indian Hospital in Cherokee, North Carolina. Photo from Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority / Facebook

The Indian Health Service continues to accept comments on a proposed regulation for the Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund.

The fund is designed to meet the medical costs associated with the treatment of victims of disasters or catastrophic illnesses. The regulation explains how the IHS will operate the program and how it will seek reimbursement for any costs.

"The CHEF program can be a crucial tool in recouping allocated resources and reimbursement for high cost Purchased/Referred Care cases. Funds placed back into the health operating budget enable more Purchased/Referred Care services to be offered by a Service Unit," Robert G. McSwain, a senior IHS official, said in a press release in January, when the regulation was first proposed. "The proposed regulation will strengthen that process."

The comment period would have ended today but it's been extended to May 10. Comments can be submitted through regulations.gov or through the mail.

The fiscal year 2017 budget request for the IHS includes $53 million for the Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund, according to a justification document. In written testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, Mary Smith, the acting director of the agency, said that represents a $3 million increase.

The Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund falls under the Purchased/Referred Care program, whose request totals $962.3 million. The program pays for primary and specialty health care services not available at IHS or tribally-managed facilities and the money often ran out in June of each fiscal year. Due to budget increases, officials have said the money usually lasts through August.

Federal Register Notices:
Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund (March 11, 2016)
Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund (January 26, 2016)

FY2017 Indian Health Service Budget Documents:
Budget Request | Budget Justification | HHS Budget In Brief

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