indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Opposition mounts to Bush IHS initiatives
THURSDAY, APRIL 3, 2003

The Bush administration's plans to consolidate and restructure the Indian Health Service (IHS) met serious opposition at a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) announced that he was deeply "concerned" about initiatives underway at the Department of Health and Human Services. As chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, he said the panel would require the agency to provide more details in addition to further consultation with Indian Country.

"I understand that we need to streamline and consolidate and not duplicate efforts and make better, more efficient use of tax money and so on," he said. "But I have seen too many times in the past when Indian programs get folded into bigger programs, money that had been formerly designated for Indian programs somehow gets transferred or moved or something."

"Indian people have never had a really strong voice in the administration, or any administration, or here either, unfortunately, " he concluded.

Tribal leaders made similar remarks about the "One HHS" effort and a separate restructuring of the IHS headquarters. Julia Davis-Wheeler, chair of the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) and secretary for the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, said tribes need more time to consider the proposals, which she characterized as "downsizing."

"The time frame for proper consultation was very short -- we had basically seven months," she told the committee. She added: "I know that the Department of Health and Human Services was really putting a lot of pressure on the Indian Health Service to do this. . . It does need some more reviewing."

Don Kashevaroff, chairman of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and president of the the Seldovia Village in Alaska, criticized HHS for glossing over the needs of Indian Country. Consolidating information technology doesn't make sense for the IHS, he said, because it is the only HHS agency with unique patient services. Yet the Bush administration proposal seeks to cut $9 million from the IT budget, he said.

"If we want one HHS, they should have one HHS," he said. "They should look at the disparities in health for American Indians and Alaska Natives and see that we have the worst statistics across the country. One HHS should come together and say 'We're going to handle the Indian population, we're going to bring them up to the rest of the population.'"

Dr. Charles Grim, who was officially nominated as IHS director last week by President Bush, said no firm decisions have been made about either proposal. "Many of these things are still in the planning phases," he told Campbell.

Grim said the IHS restructuring was the work of nearly a year of tribal consultation. He said the comments that were received were taken into account and weren't earth shattering.

A tribal workgroup has made recommendations about the One HHS initiative, part of which seeks to consolidate information technology and human resource functions, a move the administration predicts will save $31 million. "We don't have specific information yet because it's an '04 budget proposal," Grim said.

The details that have emerged include the elimination of about 36 human resource positions at locations throughout Indian Country. The rest of the HR staff, approximately 180, will be moved to one office in Baltimore, Maryland.

Additionally, the IHS has been granted authority, through homeland security legislation, to offer buy-out and retirement packages to IHS employees. Reports from the field indicate that employees in Oklahoma and New Mexico have been approached. In a recent interview, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. said the Navajo IHS was being affected.

"We will make wise and judicious use of buy-out and early-out sorts of authorities, targeted at areas where we may have overages," promised Grim at the Senate hearing. "As a last resort, we would touch the service unit or the health care delivery level, if necessary."

At a separate meeting with with IHS and HHS officials, Navajo Nation Vice President Frank Dayish Jr. voiced the tribe's opposition. "The Navajo Nation is alarmed about the proposed consolidation plan, the department may not honor the Indian Preference act, and it could mean a shortage in health care needs for our Navajo residents," he said.

Congress, in passing the recent 2003 omnibus budget, required legislative approval before HHS moves forward with consolidation.

With about 15,000 employees, IHS is the second largest division within HHS. The agency headquarters are located in Rockville, Maryland.

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

Related Stories:
GOP rejects IHS funding measure (3/26)
Budget measure would double IHS funds (3/25)
Bush scoring tool impacts Indian programs (03/07)
Omnibus spending bill gains Bush approval (02/21)
Bush initiative to be scrutinized by Congress (02/18)
Grim expects nomination as head of IHS (2/11)
IHS positions being eliminated (2/7)
'Austere' health care budget cited (2/5)
Thompson releases new IHS budget (2/4)
Senate approves $390B spending bill (1/24)
Indian Country receives diabetes grants (12/11)
Court rebuffs tribes on contract funding dispute (11/27)
Congress approves $750M for Indian diabetes (11/21)
Northern Plains tribes see high infant death rate (10/30)
Navajo Nation challenges contract policy (10/04)
Reports address long-term elder care (08/20)
Bush appoints interim director of IHS (08/05)
Bush delaying pick for IHS post (7/23)
Report stresses importance of health insurance (5/22)
Poor Indian health blamed on federal failures (3/21)
IHS pressed to include tribes in reform efforts (02/28)
IHS budget cuts construction funds (2/12)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribes ask Obama to deny Keystone XL permit (1/28)
Native Sun News: Native youth take stand against Keystone bid (1/28)
Tara Houska: Respect treaties and reject Keystone XL Pipeline (1/28)
Mark Trahant: Obama administration steps up for environment (1/28)
House committee won't restore Indian and Alaska Native panel (1/28)
Opinion: Affordable Care Act offers behavorial health services (1/28)
Sami Jo Difuntorum: Support needed for Indian housing update (1/28)
Amanda Blackhorse: Navajo leader defends racist NFL mascot (1/28)
Megan Red Shirt-Shaw: Our kids should be able to go anywhere (1/28)
Police probe racist treatment of Oglala youth at hockey game (1/28)
Auburn Community buys stake in rock music festival company (1/28)
Former Pueblo leader ready to change plea in $3.6M theft case (1/28)
Mississippi Choctaws to debut casino after $70M in renovations (1/28)
Catawba Nation waits for BIA decision on off-reservation casino (1/28)
Member of Chehalis Tribe working on $40M expansion of casino (1/28)
Opinion: Decision on Menominee Nation casino makes no sense (1/28)
Editorial: Approve off-reservation casino for Ho-Chunk Nation (1/28)
Native Sun News: Chair of Lower Brule Sioux Tribe blasts report (1/27)
Native Sun News: Lummi Nation eyes halt to coal export project (1/27)
House Natural Resources Committee set to hold first meeting (1/27)
First-ever conference to focus on marijuana in Indian Country (1/27)
Fort Peck Tribes moving towards full legalization of marijuana (1/27)
8th Circuit rules against Indian inmate in religious rights case (1/27)
Jennifer Denetdale: Film glosses over violence in border towns (1/27)
Isadore Boni: An Apache AIDS survivor completes first marathon (1/27)
Osage Nation expects to see $7.4M in Cobell consolidation offers (1/27)
The Atlantic: Native people wary of DNA tests and genetic studies (1/27)
Morongo Band to debut first tribally-owned Taco Bell next week (1/27)
County files appeal over Chumash Tribe land-into-trust decision (1/27)
City leaders to work closely with Shakopee Tribe on road project (1/27)
Miccosukee Tribe wins decision in dispute over fees paid to court (1/27)
Senate Democrats delay vote on Keystone XL Pipeline measure (1/27)
Editorial: Wildlife refuge in Alaska deserves stronger protections (1/27)
BIA questions provision in compact for some New Mexico tribes (1/27)
Seminole Tribe still interested in opening casino in Atlantic City (1/27)
Ho-Chunk Nation's gaming compact authorizes another facility (1/27)
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes name executive for gaming operation (1/27)
Editorial: Presidential politics derailed off-reservation casino bid (1/27)
Native Sun News: North Dakota takes on impacts of energy boom (1/26)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux man calls on US to honor its word (1/26)
GOP leader outlines agenda for Senate Indian Affairs Committee (1/26)
Witness list for Senate Indian Affairs Committee's first hearing (1/26)
Supreme Court orders another decision in Indian inmates' case (1/26)
Brandon Ecoffey: Major issues ignored in State of Indian Nations (1/26)
Steven Newcomb: Supreme Court decision influenced by religion (1/26)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.