IHS budget receives increase
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APRIL 10, 2001

Secretary Tommy Thompson on Monday announced the Department of Health and Human Services' proposed 2002 budget on Monday, which includes an increase in funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS).

The jump shouldn't come as a surprise, though. As President Bush's attempts to bring fiscal conservancy to Capitol Hill, Thompson's department was one of the few to see an overall increase in spending.

Still, yesterday's proposal isn't as large as what was seen during the final year of the Clinton administration. IHS got a boost of $347 million from 2000 to 2001, the largest ever in its history of serving the health care needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives throughout the country.

This time around, the IHS is proposed to receive a $107 million increase from $3.2 billion to $3.3 billion. When compared to 2000, as the new administration is apt to do, the increase comes to $454 million.

When broken down, however, some programs aren't seeing gains while others are being cut. Urban Indian health care spending remains at $30 million while facilities construction is being cut by $48 million.

Some construction projects will still go through. One is $14 million for completion of a hospital complex in Fort Defiance, Arizona. The other is a controversial $24 million hospital project on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska that will serve the Winnebago and Omaha tribes.

A large portion of the proposed budget goes to tribes directly to manage their own health services. About 62 percent ($1.7 million) of the fiscal year 2002 budget, in fact, is aimed at tribes, an increase from the current level of 53 percent.

The primary reason for the increase is due to a proposal by the Navajo Nation, the largest tribe in the country. The tribe is seeking to take over health care from IHS to serve an estimated 250,000 tribal members.

Six hospitals and 19 outpatient facilities with a current operating budget of $349 million will be transferred to the Navajo Nation beginning January 1, 2002. To help meet this goal, IHS is dedicating $40 million primarily to provide transition support to the tribe.

When complete, the transfer would be the largest effort undertaken by the IHS. Currently, 3,600, or 24 percent of IHS' work force, services the Navajo Nation alone.

Indian Country will see side benefits from other spending boosts in Health and Human Services. Overall funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which provides grants to tribes and tribal health organizations, is being increased 13.5 percent to $23.1 billion.

Of NIH's funding, the Office of Research on Women's Health is seeing a $28 million increase to $50 million. The recently created National Center for Minority Health and and Health Disparities will see a 20 percent increase from $132 million to $150 million.

IHS estimates it serves 1.5 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Get the Budget:
FY 2002 President's Budget for HHS (HHS 4/9)

Get Thompson's Remarks:
Secretary Tommy G. Thompson FY 2002 Budget Press Conference (HHS 4/9)

Relevant Links:
Indian Health Service -

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Increase in IHS funding expected (10/6)
Urban Indian health care appropriated (9/22)
Tribes wanted for health program (9/18)