Grim expects nomination as head of IHS

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IHS: Interim director Charles W. Grim, D.D.S. File Photo Indian Health Service.
President Bush is advancing the nomination of the interim Indian Health Service (IHS) director, administration officials said.

Dr. Charles Grim, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, has been serving as temporary head of the IHS since August. He confirmed that the White House is finalizing work on his official nomination to the post, located within the Department of Health and Human Services.

"It's a very long process to get politically appointed with Senate confirmation," he said in an interview last week. "The department is fully supportive of me and has moved to move my name onto the White House."

Grim and other officials didn't know when an announcement would be made. But Grim, who is undergoing a standard background check, left open the possibility that he might not be the final pick.

"I think probably within the next several months we'll hear something," he said. "Either they're going to move me forward or look for someone else."

Grim, a 20-year veteran of the IHS, already has the backing of Bush, who made the interim appointment. Otherwise, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson could have chosen an "acting" replacement for former director Dr. Michael Trujillo, who left in June of last year.

Grim, who most recently held the Oklahoma City area director position, had interviewed for the director position last year. But Indian health and tribal leaders became worried when administration officials indicate they would wait before settling on a choice.

"A delay in the selection process would likely push the confirmation process into the spring of 2003, which creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and tentativeness that hinders cooperation and collaboration between the Indian Health Service and tribal governments," National Indian Health Board chair Julia Davis wrote in a letter to President Bush last July

According to those familiar with the selection process, Grim was among a field of eight or so who sought the post. He was described as a "partisan" choice, although the list included other Indian Republicans and IHS veterans.

The IHS director post requires approval by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee before advancing to the full Senate. It is not an assistant secretary level position, however. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has a standing bill to elevate the director. Grim said the Bush administration "would be supportive" of the measure.

Relevant Links:
Indian Health Service -
Department of Health and Human Services -

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