Indianz.Com Video: House Committee on Natural Resources Markup - March 11, 2020

Bill to improve health care for urban Indian veterans advaces on Capitol Hill

A bipartisan bill to improve health care for urban Indian veterans is taking another step forward on Capitol Hill.

H.R.4153, the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act, seeks to improve the relationship between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service. It authorizes the VA to pay for services veterans receive at urban Indian health centers, which receive funding through the IHS.

"American Indians and Alaska Natives serve this country at a higher rate than any other group in the nation," Sonya Tetnowski, a veteran from the Makah Nation who serves as chief executive officer of the Santa Clara Valley Indian Health Center in California, said in testimony to the House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States on September 19. "Many of these veterans live in urban areas and seek out the high-quality, culturally competent care at their local urban Indian organization."

Indianz.Com Audio: House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States Legislative Hearing - September 19, 2019

The House Committee on Natural Resources is marking up H.R.4153 on Wednesday morning. Once that happens, the bill will be ready for passage in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A companion version of the bill is also advancing on the other side of Capitol Hill. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs testimony on S.2365 on November 20 and approved it for passage in the U.S. Senate at a business meeting on December 11.

"It is vitally important that you increase the total funding available to tribes," Chairman Mark Fox of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, who is a veteran, told the Senate committee at the hearing.

American Indians and Alaska Natives enlist in the U.S. military at the highest rates, per capita, of any racial or ethnic group. According to the VA, nearly 31,000 Native Americans are currently on active duty. Another 140,000 Native Americans are veterans of the armed forces.

The markup takes place at 10am in Room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building. A total of 11 bills are on the agenda.

House Committee on Natural Resources Markup
Full Committee Markup (March 11, 2020)

Note: Thumbnail photo Chickasaw Nation veterans ceremony by Kelly White / U.S. Air Force

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