( – promoted by navajo)
(cross-posted from daily kos)
The Indian Health Care Improvement Act is being debated this week in the Senate. The bill is to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and bring the Native American health care services to modernity. The Indian Health Care Improvement Act was originally signed by Gerald Ford in 1976 to help combat Indian poverty. The Indian Health Service has brought medical care to reservations and urban Indian communities across the land. It has been over 14 years since the last authorization of the bill.
Despite the fact the bill hasn’t even been passed yet in the Senate- (where if faces a series of hostile ammendments) Bush is threatening a veto.
It is being reported that the Bush Administration is threatening to veto an Indian health bill that is aimed at improving the health care of those living on Indian reserves.
The bill would boost screening and mental health programs provided by the Indian Health Service. There would also be an increase in access to Medicare and Medicaid and ‘reservation health clinics would be improved’. The bill would
increase the number of American Indians in health care professions, increase funds for screening and health prevention programs, request the establishment and modernization of health clinics, address access to care issues for American Indians, and expand mental health care programs (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 1/18). According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the measure would authorize discretionary spending of $16 billion over a five-year period and $35 billion over the next decade.
Bush doesn’t want to help improve a program that “provides coverage for about 1.8 million American Indians and Alaska Natives primarily through tribal health care providers and a network of government hospitals and clinics.” And the reason?
The White House issued a policy statement that called for changes to the bill and said Bush would veto the measure if they were not made (CQ Today, 1/23). The Bush administration objected to a provision that would expand the rules for employers to pay their workers prevailing local wages for new projects funded under the bill, according to CongressDaily (CongressDaily, 1/22). The administration also criticized what it said were inadequate documentation requirements included in the bill for enrollment in Medicaid and other government-sponsored programs. http://www.kaisernetwork.org/d…
American Indians need this bill. The health problems facing American Indians are well known.
They suffer disproportionately from diseases such as alocholism, diabetes, and heart disease. They have a high infant mortality rate. It is 150 percent higher for Native American infants than white infants. The suicide rate amongst Native Americans is two and a half times the national rate.
Barrack Obama (a co-sponsor of the bill along with Hillary Clinton) said “With these alarming statistics, improvements to Native American health care could not come at a more urgent time.” (press release )
Native Americans have been crushed under the racist wheel of colonialism and ‘progress’. Bush is to see that American Indians continue to suffer the consquences of history. Bush is a disgrace to American Indians and human decency. Would it be too much to ask to help alleviate the suffering of a people who have suffered so much through out American history?
American Indians were to be compensated for the land that was stolen from them. In exchange for the land American Indians were to government supported health care. American Indians continue to be shafted by a government that has woefully neglected them.
Health care was promised in treaties that Indian nations signed with the United States. Health in exchange for the land that is America. At the various times when treaties were signed, Indian leaders faced the annihilation of their people if they didn’t make bargain ceding their land. What they asked for in return were a handful of basic needs, what the United Nations calls human rights. Among these was health care. http://www.indiancountry.com/c…
So it goes….
Senator Max Baucus is right when he calls the treatment of American Indians an ‘abomination’.
“It is an abomination, a tragedy what little attention we pay to Native Americans’ health care needs, I wish that more people in the country would visit an Indian reservation; I wish they would visit Indian Health Service hospitals. They would realize the abysmal plight of so many people in America that this bill helps.”
Take a look at what Baucus has to say over at and what he did on his role on the Finance Committee at Native American Times
The Finance Committee provisions would clarify how Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP pay Indian health providers.
The Finance Committee provisions would increase outreach and enrollment of Indians in Medicaid and CHIP.
These provisions would clarify cost-sharing protections for Indians in Medicaid and CHIP.
These provisions would protect Indian health providers from discrimination in payment for services.
These provisions would require States and the Secretary of HHS to consult with Indian health providers.
These provisions would ensure that Medicaid managed care organizations pay Indian health providers appropriately.
And these provisions would require the Secretary to report on Indian enrollment in Federal programs and related matters on an annual basis.
It’s a good package. The Senate ought to pass this bill. And Congress should reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.
The United States owes a debt to the Native American population whose ancestors are tied up with the very soil that all Americans share. The Federal Government owes a duty to help improve the health of American Indians. And we in this Senate have the obligation to pass this act and honor the flesh, the bones, and the blood of our Indian brethren.