SEPTEMBER 22, 2000 If all goes well, Urban Indians in the greater Albuquerque, New Mexico, area will have continued access to dental care, thanks to an appropriation on the year 2001 Department of Interior Appropriations Bill. The Indian Health Service's Urban Indian Program already operates a dental clinic at the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) in Albuquerque. As Pueblos in the area have contracted dental services directly from IHS, the budget for the urban health care center has been decreased some 81 percent since 1997. The new $1 million appropriation will help restore lost funding. Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.Mex) and Representative Heather Wilson (R-N.Mex) announced the appropriation on Thursday. "The SIPI clinic is caught in a difficult situation resulting from the ability of tribes to contract themselves with the IHS dental care. The clinic's budget has been drained while it still has the responsibility to give care to thousands of patients," said Domenici. "This is unacceptable." "Urban Indians are generally getting very small service dollars compared to reservation Indians, and Congress needs to address this inequity," added Wilson. The clinic serves about 5,000 patients a year, out of approximately 33,000 urban Indians in the area. Yet only one full-time dentist is employed there and the appropriation, if approved, would help to double the staff. The House and Senate need to approve both bills before sending them to President Clinton for signing. Relevant Links:
Senator Pete Domenici - www.senate.gov/~domenici
Representative Heather Wilson - hillsource.house.gov/wilson/index.asp
Indian Health Service - www.ihs.gov
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