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Harjo: Urban Indian health funding still at risk

"When President Bush sent Congress his proposed budget for fiscal year 2007 at the beginning of this calendar year, the urban Indian health program was targeted for elimination. The administration began taking steps to close the 34 health centers all over the country.

In response to a unified Indian lobby effort to save the program, the House restored $32.7 million for the health centers in May. The final vote on the umbrella bill, the Interior Appropriation Act, was 293 to 128.

In case anyone missed the point, the House report which accompanied the bill stated that ''the proposal to eliminate this program is rejected.''

The Senate Appropriations Committee concurred in June, adding report language that leaves nothing to the imagination

The administration has the House and Senate bills and reports, and there can be no mistaking what Congress intended to this point. But that intention is not yet law.

Administrators intent on mischief could make some for the program, but few would be so foolish as to poke a stick at appropriators who control their budget.

While waiting for definitive action, the people who staff the urban Indian health centers, as well as the Indian patients who depend on them, would become increasingly apprehensive about the program's future."

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: Recess is over, but the games continue (Indian Country Today 9/7)

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