While it's possible Congress could consider other legislative vehicles, the outlook is shaky. Despite the program's proven success in Indian Country, lawmakers have been reluctant to extend it. Instead of the five-year reauthorizations that were common on the past, tribes have had to settle for two-year and one-year extensions. The one that's due to expire in March is among the shortest ever -- just three months. With funds in limbo, the NIHB has been meeting with key lawmakers all week to advocate for the program. Tribal leaders, like President Russell Begaye of the Navajo Nation, have been among those pushing for an extension. “We have big gaps in health care on the Navajo Nation,” Begaye said on Wednesday after a round of meetings on Capitol Hill. “We are about as rural as you can get in the United States, and that means we’re facing real challenges.” Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), who serves as the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, is holding a roundtable on Saturday to hear from tribes about the importance of SDPI. "Through SDPI, Pueblos and tribes have had tremendous success fighting diabetes – a public health crisis that disproportionally affects Native Americans," Udall's office said on Friday. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.9 percent of Native men over the age of 18 have been diagnosed with diabetes, the highest among all racial and ethnic groups in the United States. And 15.3 percent of Native women suffer from the condition, again the highest rate in the nation.
Talking with @SenJohnHoeven about Tribal health needs and our current legislative priorities: SDPI, protection from Medicaid work requirements, more federal support for Tribal public health programs and IT infrastructure, and Congressional oversight of IHS! pic.twitter.com/TRJQoVx6gR— NIHB (@NIHB1) January 30, 2018
Grants from the SDPI have kept the rates from growing even higher, according to advocates and lawmakers. The program has provided $150 million every year to tribes, tribal organizations and urban Indian clinics, an amount that hasn't changed despite the rising costs of health care. Rep. Norma Torres (D-California), the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, has introduced H.R.2545 to renew SDPI for five years. Her bill would increase funding levels in the coming years. A different bill, H.R.3917, reauthorizes the program for just two years. It maintains the $150 million funding level. Neither bill has been granted a hearing at this point in the 115th Congress. Udall's roundtable takes place at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque at 10am on Saturday.
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President Trump signs bill to end three days of government shutdown (January 23, 2018)
Mark Trahant: Indian Country will be hit hard by government shutdown (January 22, 2018)
Federal shutdown looms as President Trump confuses his own party (January 18, 2018)
Ponca Tribe prepares for brighter future with plans for $26 million health center (December 6, 2017)
Congress approves yet another short-term extension for Indian diabetes program (October 9, 2017)
Mark Trahant: Indian Country sees incremental progress on obesity among youth (August 7, 2017)
Indian Country suffers from highest diabetes rate as key program hangs in limbo (July 21, 2017)
Lawmakers push to renew Special Diabetes Program for Indians (May 18, 2017)
Chris Buchanan: Indian Health Service sees progress on diabetes (March 31, 2017)
Cronkite News: Tribes pushing for renewal of key diabetes funding (March 30, 2017)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on diabetes (March 21, 2017)