Indianz.Com: H.R.7948 | Tribal Health Data Improvement Act | 116th Congress | #COVID19
Tribal Health Data Improvement Act back on agenda
Monday, June 21, 2021
Indianz.Com

A bipartisan bill to ensure that tribes have access to the same public health data as states is once again moving forward on Capitol Hill.

H.R.3841, the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act, is scheduled for passage in the U.S. House of Representatives as soon as Tuesday. It will be considered under a suspension of the rules, according to the Majority Leader’s calendar, a process typically used for non-controversial measures.

The bill address an issue that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tribal health authorities discovered that they aren’t able to access information at the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where key data is kept.

“Our sovereign tribal nations and tribal epidemiology centers were always supposed to have equal access to public health data as states, counties, and cities. But for years, many tribes have faced many challenges while trying to access this public health data,” Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma), a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, said when introducing H.R.3841 on June 11.

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of equal access to this data in order for tribes to make decisions for their communities, and the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act makes that happen,” said Mullin.

A prior version of the bill cleared the House during the 116th Congress. It wasn’t taken up by the U.S. Senate in time for it to become law.

“Arizona tribal communities suffered the very worst of COVID-19. Now, more than ever, it is critical that they have access to all data related to health care and public health surveillance programs,” said Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Arizona), a co-sponsor of the bill. “The Tribal Health Data Improvement Act ensures that sovereign tribal nations will have the data they are entitled to by law to make the best decisions to keep their citizens safe.”

The House will begin considering legislation at 2pm Eastern on Tuesday. The session can be viewed at live.house.gov.

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Cronkite News: Tribes denied access to public health data (October 8, 2020)
Tribal Health Data Improvement Act up for passage in House (September 28, 2020)