Biden Releases COVID-19 Strategy Plan Prioritizing Urban Indian Health

The new Administration will bolster support for Tribal Nations and Urban Indian Health Programs (UIHPs) by affirming the ability and building the capacity of the Indian Health Service (IHS), Tribes, Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools, and UIHPs to provide vaccines for Native communities. The federal government will take all available steps to strengthen distribution and ordering for Tribes and Urban Indian Health Providers. President Biden has called on Congress to provide additional funds to IHS to support expanded health services, address lost revenues, and support testing and vaccination efforts.

House Releases Indian Health Draft COVID-19 Bills

The bill draft includes $84 million for urban Indian health and 2 years of 100% FMAP for UIOs.

On February 9, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released their draft bill text for the budget reconciliation package on COVID-19 relief. The markup of these drafts will happen by the Full Committee on February 11. The drafts include $6.1 billion for Indian health programs with $84 million for urban Indian health and two years of 100% FMAP to Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) for Medicaid services for IHS-beneficiaries.

100% FMAP for UIOs has been a long-standing priority for NCUIH. In recent weeks, NCUIH has worked closely with key Congressional leaders to push for the inclusion of 100% FMAP for UIOs. Last week, three Senators spoke on the Senate floor about prioritizing Indian health and ensuring that UIOs would be eligible for full FMAP. Rep. Ruiz also led a letter signed by over 2 dozen House Representatives to request full FMAP for UIOs in the budget reconciliation package.

The Indian health provisions reflect many recommendations in the tribal inter-organization letter sent on February 2. These investments for Indian health will be critical for shoring up necessary resources to combat COVID-19 as January “was the deadliest so far in the US, with 958 recorded Native deaths – a 35% increase since December, a bigger rise than for any other group”.

Next Steps

The Committee will host a markup and the House plans to vote on the full package the week of February 22. NCUIH will continue to push for long-term 100% FMAP for UIOs and urge Congressional leaders to support inclusion of the many Indian health wins in the budget reconciliation package.

Overview of Indian Health Provisions

  • $6.094 billion in funding for Indian health programs
  • $2 billion for lost revenue
  • $500 million for Purchased/Referred Care
  • $140 million for information technologies, telehealth, and electronic health records infrastructure
  • $84 million for urban Indian health programs
  • $600 million for vaccine-related activities
  • $1.5 billion for testing, tracing, and mitigating COVID-19
  • $240 million for public health workforce
  • $420 million for mental and behavioral health prevention and treatment services among Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations
  • $600 million for funding support of tribal health care facilities and infrastructure
  • $10 million for potable water delivery.

Legislation Recommendations and Memorandum