Washington, D.C. – Wednesday, the Indian Health Service Advance Appropriations Act, legislation authored by Congressman Don Young (R-AK) to provide advance appropriations authority for the Indian Health Service (IHS) passed out of a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples hearing.
The 2018-2019 partial government shutdown, which affected IHS, put the health and safety of tribal communities – including Alaska Native communities — at risk. Alaska Natives and American Indians were harmed by the lapse of appropriations because of the breadth of services that experienced a lapse in funding. Had advance appropriations been permitted, IHS and Native health care providers that compact to provide service on behalf of the federal government would have had a stable budget to fulfill federal trust obligations. Today’s hearing featured testimony in support of Congressman Young’s bill from Alaskan witness Verné Boerner with the Alaska Native Health Board.
“I am very pleased to see my legislation move one step closer to the finish line during today’s subcommittee hearing. Alaska Native and American Indian communities have historically been shortchanged when it comes to receiving high-quality health care to meet their unique needs,” said Congressman Young. “The goal of my bill is simple: enable Congress to appropriate funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS) one fiscal year in advance. Advance appropriations have already proven to be successful at the VA, and patients in our Native communities should not have their ability to receive health care impacted due to government shutdowns caused by partisan fighting in D.C. It is up to Congress to uphold the federal trust relationship with Native populations across the country, and as my bill moves closer to a final vote, I encourage my friends on both sides of the aisle to support my important legislation. I would like to thank Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) for her long-time partnership on this critical issue, and I appreciate the efforts of my fellow members of the Native American Caucus in support of my bill.”
Source: Office of Congressman Young