Health

IHS reopens comment period for Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe






The clay cliffs in Aquinnah, Massachusetts, the home of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe. Photo from Wikipedia

The Indian Health Service has reopened the comment period on a notice to expand the service delivery area for the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts.

The service area currently consists of the island of Martha's Vineyard in Dukes County. A notice published in the Federal Register on August 24 proposed to expand it to Barnstable, Bristol, Norfolk, Plymouth and Suffolk counties on the mainland.

The comment period for that notice closed September 23. It's now being extended until October 28, according to another notice published today.

"This comment period is being extended to allow all interested parties the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule," the notice states.

The notice doesn't offer further explanation. But only one comment had been submitted prior to September, according to the docket folder on regulations.gov.

Earlier in the Obama administration, the IHS denied the tribe's request to expand the service area. The new proposal acknowledges that a large number of tribal members live on the mainland and getting to the clinic in Aquinnah on Martha's Vineyard requires a long ferry and car ride.

"As a consequence, most non-residents do not seek care on the island," the earlier notice stated.

The expansion would benefit about 268 tribal members, according to the IHS.

Federal Register Notices:
Notice To Propose the Redesignation of the Service Delivery Area for the Aquinnah Wampanoag Indian Tribe (October 5, 2015)
Notice To Propose the Redesignation of the Service Delivery Area for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) (August 24, 2015)

Also Today:
Martha’s Vineyard casino proposal splits island (The Boston Globe 10/3)

Related Stories:
IHS plans to expand service area for Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe (08/27)