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Daschle criticizes Bush on Indian health funds
Tuesday, February 3, 2004

The following is a press release from Sen. Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota).

Senator Tom Daschle today criticized President Bush's Fiscal Year 2005 budget proposal for drastically underfunding the Indian Health Service (IHS).

Bush's budget proposal includes only $2.1 billion for the IHS clinical services account that funds individual health care services, far below the $5.54 billion Daschle requested in a December letter to President Bush. In the letter, Daschle noted that recent IHS funding increases have failed to keep pace with medical inflation or population growth, and called the state of Indian health care a "a national disgrace that simply must end."

"Once again, President Bush and his Republican allies have abandoned Native Americans," said Senator Daschle. "The President likes to call himself a 'compassionate conservative.' But there is nothing compassionate about a budget that leaves thousands of Indians without access to even the most basic medical care."

A recent study of federal health care spending per capita found that the United States spends $3,803 per year per federal prisoner, while spending about half that amount per year, per Native American: $1,914. Per capital health care spending for the U.S. general population is $5,065 per year. Daschle pledged to continue his efforts to improve Indian health care and ensure adequate funding for IHS.

"It is simply unacceptable for our nation to spend more money on health care for prisoners than we do on health care for Native Americans," Daschle added. "Our government has made a commitment to provide high-quality health care to Native Americans, and I will continue to make every effort to ensure that it does. The first step is to give the Indian Health Service the resources it needs to provide that care."

Republicans have continually opposed efforts to increase funding for the Indian Health Service, blocking Daschle legislation that would have increased IHS funding by $2.9 billion in March 2003 and a second measure offered in September of last year that would have provided one tenth of that amount -- an additional $292 million -- for the IHS.

Relevant Links:
Indian Health Service - http://www.ihs.gov
Department of Health and Human Services - http://www.hhs.gov

Related Stories:
Daschle asks Bush to increase funding for IHS (12/18)
Democrats lay out plan for minority and Indian health (10/22)
Daschle: Improve Health Care in Indian Country (10/15)
Senate votes down health and trust measures (09/24)
Senate rejects one IHS funding measure, passes another (03/26)
Tribes told to explore health funding options (02/05)
Thompson releases new IHS budget (2/4)
Indian Country receives diabetes grants (12/11)
Congress approves $750M for Indian diabetes (11/21)

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