House Passes Fiscal Year 2023 Appropriations Minibus with $200 million for Urban Indian Health

On July 21, 2022, the House passed H.R. 8294, a package of six fiscal year (FY) 2023 federal funding bills, by a 220 to 207 vote. Included within the package is the FY 2023 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which includes $8.1 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS) and $200 million for urban Indian health, but fails to include advance appropriations for IHS.

Background

On June 28, 2022, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies released the Committee Bill Report for the FY 2023 budget with $200 million for urban Indian health. The report and bill were considered by the full House Appropriations Committee on June 29, 2022, after being approved by the House Subcommittee on Interior on June 21, 2022. The bill authorizes $8.1 billion for IHS— an increase of $1.5 billion from FY22 but $1 billion below the President’s budget request. Despite robust advocacy from Tribes and Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs), the bill does not include advance appropriations for IHS. Other key provisions include $17 million for generators for IHS/Tribal Health Programs/UIOs and $3 million for a Produce Prescription Pilot Program for Tribes and UIOs to increase access to produce and other traditional foods. A more detailed analysis follows below.

The President’s budget proposed to shift IHS from discretionary funding to mandatory funding in FY 2023. In the meantime, Native health advocates requested Advance Appropriations until mandatory funding is implemented. To much disappointment, the House bill does not provide (or even mention) advance appropriations for IHS. Advance appropriations is a long-standing priority for Indian Country and advocates have been requesting Congress to provide stable funding for IHS, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic which has had tremendous, adverse impacts on American Indians and Alaska Natives. In the past month alone, NCUIH sent a letter to request Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy to allow for advance appropriations, and NCAI and NIHB also sent an action alert to request the Appropriations Committee include advance appropriations. Previously, NCUIH, along with 28 Representatives and 12 Senators requested advanced appropriations for IHS until such time that authorizers move IHS to mandatory spending.

Status of Senate Interior Appropriations Bill

The Senate has yet to release their appropriations bills, and it is unlikely they will pass their bills before the current September 30 deadline. Congress will need to rely on a Continuing Resolution to avoid a government shutdown.

Bill Highlights

Indian Health Service: $8.1 billion

  • $8.1 billion for the Indian Health Service, an increase of $1.5 billion above the FY 2022 enacted level.

Urban Indian Health: $200 million

  • Bill Report: “The recommendation includes $200,000,000 for Urban Indian Health, $126,576,000 above the enacted level and $200,000,000 above the budget request. This amount includes $31,000 transferred from the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program as part of the for NIAAA program. The Committee expects the Service to continue including current services estimates for Urban Indian health in annual budget requests.”

Mandatory Funding:

  • Bill Report: “For fiscal year 2023, the Administration proposed reclassifying IHS accounts as mandatory and did not submit a discretionary budget proposal. However, IHS did not provide implementation language and at the time of writing this report, the authorizing committees have not enacted the President’s proposal. Because the authorizing committees have not acted, the Committee is providing discretionary funds for IHS for fiscal year 2023 to ensure health care for Native Americans is not negatively impacted.”
  • Note: There is no mention of advance appropriations for IHS in this bill.

Equipment: $118.5 million

  • Bill Report: “The recommendation includes $118,511,000 for Equipment, $88,047,000 above the enacted level and $118,511,000 above the budget request. The bill continues $500,000 for TRANSAM.
  • The report further states: “The Committee is aware that the increasing severity and frequency of extreme weather events has motivated certain jurisdictions to adopt de-energization protocols to reduce the risks of catastrophic wildfires. While these protocols are useful in limiting loss of life in affected communities, they can also have dire consequences for Tribal Health Programs located in impacted areas. To increase the resilience of these facilities, the recommendation includes an additional $17,000,000 to purchase generators for IHS, Tribal Health Programs, and Urban Indian Organizations located in areas impacted by de-energization events. In procuring backup generators, the Indian Health Service is directed to determine the most cost-effective method, which may include leasing. In determining the most cost-effective procurement method, the Service shall account for life-cycle maintenance costs associated with direct ownership and clinics’ capabilities to maintain these generators.”

Electronic Health Records: $284.5 million

  • Bill Report: “To improve the current IT infrastructure system to support deployment of a new modern electronic health records (EHR) solution, the recommendation includes $284,500,000 for Electronic Health Records, $139,481,000 above the enacted level and $284,500,000 above the budget request.
  • The report further states: “The Committee urges IHS to continue moving forward with modernizing its aging EHR system by replacing it with a solution that is interoperable with the new EHR at the Department of Veterans Affairs and with systems purchased by Tribes and UIOs. Modernization should include robust Tribal consultation and planning to ensure that Tribes and UIOs are enabled to take full advantage of resulting modern health information technology and are not unduly burdened during this process.”

Mental Health: $130 million

  • Bill Report: “The recommendation includes $129,960,000 for Mental Health, $8,014,000 above the enacted level and $129,960,000 above the budget request.”

Alcohol and Substance Abuse: $264 million

  • Bill Report: “The Committee provides $264,032,000 for Alcohol and Substance Abuse, $5,689,000 above the enacted level and $264,032,000 above the budget request. This amount transfers $31,000 to Urban Indians from the former National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Funding for Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention grants is continued at fiscal year 2022 enacted levels.”

Community Health Aide Program (CHAP): $25 million

  • Bill Report: “[…] an additional $20,000,000 is provided to expand the Community Health Aide Program to the lower 48 states with direction for IHS to report within 90 days of enactment of this Act on how funds will be distributed”

Tribal Epidemiology Centers: $34,433,361

  • Bill Report: “[…] an additional $10,000,000 is for Tribal Epidemiology Centers”

Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS and STDs Initiative: $52 million

  • Bill Report: “[…] an additional $47,000,000 is for the Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS and STDs initiative.”

Maternal Health: $10 million

  • Bill Report: “The recommendation also includes an additional $4,000,000 to improve maternal health with continued direction to report to the Committee within 180 days of enactment of this Act on use of funds, updates on staff hiring, status of related standards, and the amount of training provided with these funds.”

Alzheimer’s Disease: $5.5 million

  • Bill Report: “The recommendation maintains $5,500,000 to continue Alzheimer’s and related dementia activities at IHS. These funds will further efforts on Alzheimer’s awareness campaigns tailored for the AI/AN perspective to increase recognition of early signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias; quarterly, competency-based training curriculum, either in-person or virtually, for primary care practitioners to ensure a core competency on assessing, diagnosing, and managing individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias; pilot programs to increase early detection and accurate diagnosis, including evidence based caregiver services within Indian Country, inclusive of urban Indian organizations (UIO); and an annual report to the Committee with data elements including the prevalence of Alzheimer’s incidence in the preceding year, and access to services within 90 days of the end of each fiscal year. The Committee continues direction to develop a plan, in consultation with Indian Tribes and urban confer with UIOs, to assist those with Alzheimer’s, the additional services required, and the costs associated with increasing Alzheimer’s patients and submit this information to Congress within 270 days of enactment of this Act.”

Produce Prescription Pilot Program:

  • Bill Report: “The Committee continues $3,000,000 for IHS to create, in coordination with Tribes and UIOs, a pilot program to implement a produce prescription model to increase access to produce and other traditional foods among its service population. Within 60 days of enactment of this Act, the Committee expects IHS to explain how the funds are to be distributed and the metrics to be used to measure success of the pilot, which shall include engagement metrics, and may include appropriate health outcomes metrics, if feasible.”

Headache Disorders Centers of Excellence:

  • Bill Report: “The Committee recognizes that over 560,000 people under IHS care are living with migraine or severe headache disorders and that AI/AN communities have the highest prevalence of both disabling headache disorders and concussion/mild traumatic brain injuries, among any racial or ethnic group in the United States. The Committee is concerned that AI/AN patients with chronic migraine, post-traumatic headache, and other disabling headache disorders often do not receive necessary specialty care. The IHS is encouraged to consider the feasibility of IHS Headache Centers of Excellence and if feasible, developing a budget proposal to establish IHS Headache Centers of Excellence to provide direct care, telehealth, and consultation patient services, as well as education and training.”

Senate Proposes $80.4 million for Urban Indian Health, Includes $5.6 billion in Advance Appropriations for IHS for FY 2023

The bill will not receive committee markups and includes $7.38 billion for IHS, $1.72 billion less than the amount requested by the President.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 29, 2022): The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee has released its fiscal year (FY) 2023 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill with $80.4 million for urban Indian health— $7 million above the current enacted level, and $32 million below the President’s request. The bill also authorizes $7.38 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS), an increase of $762 million from FY 2022, but $1.72 billion below the President’s request. Thanks to the robust advocacy efforts from NCUIH, Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) and Tribes alike, the bill text provides $5.577 billion of advance appropriations for IHS for FY 2024. The bill will not receive any committee markups. Other key provisions include $9 million to improve maternal health, increased funding for mental health programs, and expanded funding for community health representatives. A more detailed analysis follows below.

The Committee is not going to conduct markups and it is expected that there will be a continuing resolution when FY22 funding expires on September 30, 2022. NCUIH will continue to advocate for full funding for IHS and urban Indian health with Advance Appropriations for FY23 as negotiations proceed later in the year.

“NCUIH is grateful for the Committee’s inclusion of $80 million for urban Indian health for Fiscal Year 2023, but disappointed to see the reduced request from last year given all the growing costs of inflation. While the proposed amount would not fully fund the Indian Health Service, we are grateful for the inclusion of critical advance appropriations.  We thank all members of the Committee for their efforts to provide resources for Native healthcare and achieve advance appropriations. The Indian Health Service has worked with inadequate and unstable funding for too long, and we hope that the federal government can finally fulfill its trust responsibility to Natives and provide the care we need” – Francys Crevier (Algonquin), CEO, NCUIH.

Advance appropriations is a long-standing priority for Indian Country. Advocates have continuously requested that Congress provide stable funding for IHS, especially considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately affected American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) who lost their lives at the highest rates of any population. The President’s budget proposed to shift IHS from discretionary funding to mandatory funding in FY 2023. During this time, Native health advocates requested advance appropriations. During the last few months alone, NCUIH sent letters to request Senate and House leadership to allow for advance appropriations, and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) sent an action alert to request advance appropriations by the House Appropriations Committee. In addition, NCUIH, along with 28 Representatives and 12 Senators, requested advanced appropriations for IHS until such time that authorizers move IHS to mandatory spending.

Line Item FY22 Enacted   FY23 TBFWG Request FY23
President’s
Budget
FY23
House Proposed
FY23 Senate Proposed
Urban Indian Health $73,424,000   $949,900,000 $112,514,000 $200,000,000 $80,424,000
Indian Health Service $6,630,986,000   $49,800,000,000 $9,100,000,000 $8,100,000,000 $7,380,000,000
House Appropriations Status

The House passed H.R. 8294 as part of six-bill package on July 21, 2022. The bill included $200 million for urban Indian health, but fails to include advance appropriations for IHS.

Background and Advocacy

On March 28, 2022, President Biden released his budget request for FY 2023 which included, for the first time ever, $9.1 billion in mandatory funding for IHS for the first year with increased yearly funding over the next ten years, and $112.5 million for Urban Indian Health— a 53.2% increase above the FY 2022 enacted amount of $73.4 million.

Full Funding, Advance Appropriations, and Mandatory Funding a Priority

NCUIH requested $49.8 billion for the Indian Health Service and $949.9 million for Urban Indian Health for FY 2023 (as requested by the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup (TBFWG) recommendations), Advance appropriations for IHS, and support of mandatory funding for IHS (including UIOs).The considerable increase for FY 2023 is a result of Tribal leaders providing budgetary recommendations for gradual funding increases over the last 10-12 years to address growing health disparities that have gone largely ignored by the federal government. ), advance appropriations for IHS, and support of mandatory funding for IHS (including UIOs).The considerable increase for FY 2023 is a result of Tribal leaders providing budgetary recommendations for gradual funding increases over the last 10-12 years to address growing health disparities that have gone largely ignored by the federal government.

On April 5, 2022, NCUIH President and CEO of the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley, Sonya Tetnowski (Makah Tribe), testified before and submitted public witness written testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies regarding FY 2023 funding for UIOs. Most recently, on July 28, 2022, NCUIH testified before the House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples in the United States in support of authorizing advance appropriations authority to IHS. In her testimony, Maureen Rosette, NCUIH Board member and Chief Operations Officer of NATIVE Project, emphasized how advance appropriations would no longer subject IHS and Tribal health facilities, especially UIOs, to government shutdowns, automatic sequestration cuts, and continuing resolutions.

NCUIH also worked closely with Representatives Gallego and Grijalva on leading a Congressional letter to the House Committee on Appropriations in support of increasing the urban Indian health line item for FY 2023. The letter had bipartisan support and called for the highest possible funding for Urban Indian Health up to the TBFWG’s recommendation of $949.9 million and advanced appropriations for IHS until such time that authorizers move IHS to mandatory spending.

Senate Bill Highlights

Indian Health Service: $7.38 billion
  • Bill Report: “For fiscal year 2023, the Administration proposed mandatory funding for all IHS accounts, however at this time no such change has been enacted into law. Therefore, the Committee recommendation provides $7,380,063,000 for IHS for fiscal year 2023 discretionary funding, an increase of $749,077,000 to the enacted level and a decrease of $1,528,937,000 to the requested level of mandatory funding.”
Urban Indian Health: $80.424 million
  • Bill Report: “The recommendation includes $80,424,000 for the Urban Indian Health program, $7,000,000 above the enacted level and $32,089,000 below the budget request.”
  • UIO Interagency workgroup: “The Committee is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of American Indians and Alaska Natives [AI/AN] living in urban Indian communities. Despite the excellent efforts of Urban Indian Organizations, AI/AN populations continue to be left out of many Federal initiatives. Therefore, the Committee directs the Indian Health Service to continue to explore the formation of an interagency working group to identify existing Federal funding supporting Urban Indian Organizations [UIOs] and determine where increases are needed, where funding is lacking, or what programs should be amended to allow for greater access by UIOs; to develop a Federal funding strategy to build out and coordinate the infrastructure necessary to pilot and scale innovative programs that address the needs and aspirations of urban AI/ANs in a holistic manner; develop a wellness centered framework to inform health services; and meet quarterly with UIOs to address other relevant issues. In addition to the Indian Health Service, the working group should consist of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, the Small Business Administration, the Economic Development Agency, FEMA, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and others as identified by UIOs.”
Advance Appropriations for IHS: $5.577 billion
  • Bill Report: “The Committee recommendation provides advance appropriations for the Indian Health Services and Indian Health Facilities accounts totaling $5,577,077,000 for fiscal year 2024. That amount is equal to the fiscal year 2023 recommendation for those accounts with the exception of funding provided for Electronic Health Records, Sanitation Facilities Construction, and Health Care Facilities Construction which are provided only an annual appropriation in recognition of the project-based nature of those accounts. Overall, the vast majority of Indian Health Service funding, and all such funding supporting the provision of health services to Native Americans such as patient care and medical equipment, is provided an advance appropriation. The Committee recognizes that budget uncertainty due to temporary lapses of appropriations and continuing resolutions have an effect on the orderly operations of critical healthcare programs for Native American communities. Existing challenges related to recruitment and retention of healthcare providers, administrative burden and costs, and financial effects on Tribes were identified areas of concern in a Government Accountability Office [GAO] study (GAO–18–652). This budgetary change will enable IHS to continue to provide health services without interruption or uncertainty, improving the quality of care and providing peace of mind for patients and medical providers.”
Improving Maternal Health: $9 million
  • Bill Report: “$9,000,000 has been included for the maternal health initiative, as estimated in the mandatory proposal. Pregnancy-related deaths have increased generally in the United States with pregnancy-related deaths among Native American women more than twice the non-Hispanic white women rate. The Committee continues to direct IHS to submit a report to the Committee within 180 days of enactment of this act on use of funds, updates on staff hiring, status of related standards, and the amount training provided with these funds.”
Dental Therapy Education Program: $2 million
  • Bill Report: “Within the funds provided, $2,000,000 is to be used for the dental health therapy education program that currently trains students in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. The Committee also directs the Service to continue the cooperative agreement with the National Indian Health Board from within existing funds.”
Dental Health: $260.326 million
  • Bill Report: “The recommendation includes $260,326,000 for dental health, an increase of $24,538,000 above the enacted level. The Service is encouraged to coordinate with the Bureau of Indian Education [BIE] to integrate preventive dental care at schools within the BIE system.”
Electronic Health Records: $190 million
  • Bill Report: “The Committee is aware there is a need for a new electronic health record system to improve the overall interoperability, efficiency, and security of the Service’s information technology system and provides $190,000,000 for this effort. Further, the Committee understands many Tribes recently upgraded computer systems for the new Department of Veterans Affairs [VA] system, and it is important these systems are compatible. It is the Committee’s expectation that the Service will be able to use the compiled information gathered during this recent effort with VA to inform both the Service and the Committee on which Tribes use their own system and the estimated costs. Finally, the Committee notes that the Electronic Health Records is excluded from the advance appropriation for fiscal year 2024 as specified in the bill.”
Produce Prescription Pilot Program
  • Bill Report: “The recommendation maintains fiscal year 2022 funding to implement a produce prescription program to increase access to produce and other traditional foods in accordance with the explanatory statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, Public Law 117–103.”
Mental Health: $127 million
  • Bill Report: “The recommendation includes $127,088,000 for mental health programs, an increase of $5,142,000 above the enacted level. The bill maintains $6,946,000 for the behavioral health integration initiative to better integrate treatment programs for mental health and substance abuse problems and $3,600,000 for the suicide prevention initiative.”
Alcohol and Substance Abuse: $270.49 million
  • Bill Report: “The recommendation includes $270,490,000 for alcohol and substance abuse programs, an increase of $12,147,000 above the enacted level.”
Opioid Grants: $13 million
  • Bill Report: “To better combat the opioid epidemic, the recommendation includes $13,000,000 to continue a Special Behavioral Health Pilot Program, as authorized by Public Law 116–6. The Director of IHS, in coordination with the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, shall award grants for providing services, provide technical assistance to grantees under this section, and evaluate performance of the program.”
Community Health Representatives: $67 million; CHAP Expansion: $5 million
  • Bill Report: “The recommendation includes $67,000,000 for the community health representatives program, an increase of $3,321,000 above the enacted level. The Committee recommendation includes $5,000,000 for the Community Health Aide Program [CHAP] expansion with instruction that this expansion should not divert funding from the existing CHAP program which shall continue at current levels.”
Headache Centers of Excellence
  • Bill Report: “The Committee recognizes that over 560,000 people under IHS care are living with migraine or severe headache disorders and that American Indian and Alaskan Native [AI/AN] communities have the highest prevalence of both disabling headache disorders and concussion/mild traumatic brain injuries among any racial or ethnic group in the United States. The Committee is concerned that AI/AN patients with these and other disabling headache disorders often do not receive necessary specialty care. There are currently no IHS-affiliated physicians certified with training in the specialty field of Headache, and there is an insufficient number of IHS neurologists overall. The Committee encourages IHS to consider the feasibility of establishing Headache Centers of Excellence in future fiscal years.”

House Releases FY 2023 Appropriations Bill with $200 Million for Urban Indian Health, Fails to Include Advance Appropriations

The bill is to be considered by Full Committee this week and includes $8.1 billion for IHS, $1 billion less than the amount requested by the President.

Today, June 28, 2022, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies released the Committee Bill Report for the fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget with $200 million for urban Indian health. The report and bill will be considered by the full House Appropriations Committee tomorrow morning and was approved by the House Subcommittee on Interior on June 21, 2022. The bill authorizes $8.1 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS)— an increase of $1.5 billion from FY22 but $1 billion below the President’s request. Despite robust advocacy from Tribes and Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs), the bill does not include advance appropriations. Other key provisions include $17 million for generators for IHS/Tribal Health Programs/UIOs and $3 million for a Produce Prescription Pilot Program for Tribes and UIOs to increase access to produce and other traditional foods. A more detailed analysis follows below.

“NCUIH is grateful for the Committee’s inclusion of $200 million for urban Indian health for Fiscal Year 2023, but disappointed to see the reduced request from last year given all of the effects of COVID-19 and the growing costs of inflation. Unfortunately, the proposed amount would not fully fund the Indian Health Service and does not include critical advance appropriations. We especially thank Congresswoman McCollum and Ranking Member Joyce for their continued efforts to provide resources for Native healthcare and achieve advance appropriations. Too many Native lives have been lost during times of funding instability and we have had enough. We hope that House leaders will hear the calls of Indian Country to prioritize equity and provide stable funding for our health in accordance with the trust responsibility.” – Francys Crevier (Algonquin), CEO, NCUIH.

The President’s budget proposed to shift IHS from discretionary funding to mandatory funding in FY 2023. In the meantime, Native health advocates requested Advance Appropriations. To much disappointment, the House bill does not provide (or even mention) advance appropriations for IHS. Advance appropriations is a long-standing priority for Indian Country and advocates have been requesting Congress to provide stable funding for IHS especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic which has had tremendous, adverse impacts for American Indians and Alaska Natives. In the past month alone, NCUIH sent a letter to request Speaker Pelosi to allow for advance appropriations and NCAI and NIHB sent an action alert to request the Appropriations Committee include advance appropriations. Previously, NCUIH, along with 28 Representatives and 12 Senators requested advanced appropriations for IHS until such time that authorizers move IHS to mandatory spending.

Line Item FY22 Enacted FY23 TBFWG Request FY23
President’s
Budget
FY23 House Proposed
Urban Indian Health $73,424,000 $949,900,000 $112,514,000 $200,000,000
Indian Health Service $6,630,986,000 $49,800,000,000 $9,100,000,000 $8,100,000,000

Background and Advocacy

On March 28, 2022, President Biden released his budget request for Fiscal Year FY 2023 which included, for the first time ever, $9.3 billion in mandatory funding for IHS for the first year with increased funding each year over ten years. On April 25, 2022, the Indian Health Service (IHS) published their FY 2023 Congressional Justification with the full details of the President’s Budget, which included $112.5 million for Urban Indian Health— a 53.2% increase above the FY 2022 enacted amount of $73.4 million.

Full Funding, Advance Appropriations, and Mandatory Funding a Priority

NCUIH requested full funding for urban Indian health for FY 2023 at $949.9 million and at least $49.8 billion for IHS in accordance with the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup (TBFWG) recommendations. The marked increase for FY23 is a result of Tribal leaders, over several decades, providing budget recommendations to phase in funding increases over 10-12 years to address growing health disparities that have largely been ignored.

On April 5, 2022, NCUIH President-Elect and CEO of the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley, Sonya Tetnowski (Makah Tribe), testified before and submitted public witness written testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies regarding FY 2023 funding for UIOs. NCUIH requested $49.8 billion for the Indian Health Service and $949.9 million for Urban Indian Health for FY 2023 as requested by the TBFWG, Advance appropriations for IHS, and support of mandatory funding for IHS including UIOs.

NCUIH recently worked closely with Representatives Gallego and Grijalva on leading a Congressional letter to the House Committee on Appropriations in support of increasing the urban Indian health line item for FY 2023. The letter has bipartisan support and calls for the highest possible funding for Urban Indian Health up to the TBFWG’s recommendation of $949.9 million and advanced appropriations for IHS until such time that authorizers move IHS to mandatory spending. On May 27, 2022, a group of 12 Senators sent a letter to the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee with the same requests.

During last week’s House Interior Subcommittee markup on the FY2023 funding bill, Rep. Chellie Pingree said of mandatory funding: “This shift requires legislative action by the authorizing committee, the House Committee on Natural Resources. In the absence of that legislation, I have included discretionary funding in this bill to ensure that there is no risk of a disruption in healthcare while that process is underway.”

Bill Highlights

Indian Health Service: $8.1 billion

  • $8.1 billion for the Indian Health Service, an increase of $1.5 billion above the FY 2022 enacted level.

Urban Indian Health: $200 million

  • Bill Report: “The recommendation includes $200,000,000 for Urban Indian Health, $126,576,000 above the enacted level and $200,000,000 above the budget request. This amount includes $31,000 transferred from the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program as part of the for NIAAA program. The Committee expects the Service to continue including current services estimates for Urban Indian health in annual budget requests.”

Mandatory Funding:

  • Bill Report: “For fiscal year 2023, the Administration proposed reclassifying IHS accounts as mandatory and did not submit a discretionary budget proposal. However, IHS did not provide implementation language and at the time of writing this report, the authorizing committees have not enacted the President’s proposal. Because the authorizing committees have not acted, the Committee is providing discretionary funds for IHS for fiscal year 2023 to ensure health care for Native Americans is not negatively impacted.”
  • Note: There is no mention of advance appropriations for IHS in this bill.

Equipment: $118.5 million

  • Bill Report: “The recommendation includes $118,511,000 for Equipment, $88,047,000 above the enacted level and $118,511,000 above the budget request. The bill continues $500,000 for TRANSAM.
  • The report further states: “The Committee is aware that the increasing severity and frequency of extreme weather events has motivated certain jurisdictions to adopt de-energization protocols to reduce the risks of catastrophic wildfires. While these protocols are useful in limiting loss of life in affected communities, they can also have dire consequences for Tribal Health Programs located in impacted areas. To increase the resilience of these facilities, the recommendation includes an additional $17,000,000 to purchase generators for IHS, Tribal Health Programs, and Urban Indian Organizations located in areas impacted by de-energization events. In procuring backup generators, the Indian Health Service is directed to determine the most cost-effective method, which may include leasing. In determining the most cost-effective procurement method, the Service shall account for life-cycle maintenance costs associated with direct ownership and clinics’ capabilities to maintain these generators.”

Electronic Health Records: $284.5 million

  • Bill Report: “To improve the current IT infrastructure system to support deployment of a new modern electronic health records (EHR) solution, the recommendation includes $284,500,000 for Electronic Health Records, $139,481,000 above the enacted level and $284,500,000 above the budget request.
  • The report further states: “The Committee urges IHS to continue moving forward with modernizing its aging EHR system by replacing it with a solution that is interoperable with the new EHR at the Department of Veterans Affairs and with systems purchased by Tribes and UIOs. Modernization should include robust Tribal consultation and planning to ensure that Tribes and UIOs are enabled to take full advantage of resulting modern health information technology and are not unduly burdened during this process.”

Mental Health: $130 million

  • Bill Report: “The recommendation includes $129,960,000 for Mental Health, $8,014,000 above the enacted level and $129,960,000 above the budget request.”

Alcohol and Substance Abuse: $264 million

  • Bill Report: “The Committee provides $264,032,000 for Alcohol and Substance Abuse, $5,689,000 above the enacted level and $264,032,000 above the budget request. This amount transfers $31,000 to Urban Indians from the former National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Funding for Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention grants is continued at fiscal year 2022 enacted levels.”

Community Health Aide Program (CHAP): $25 million

  • Bill Report: “[…] an additional $20,000,000 is provided to expand the Community Health Aide Program to the lower 48 states with direction for IHS to report within 90 days of enactment of this Act on how funds will be distributed”

Tribal Epidemiology Centers: $34,433,361

  • Bill Report: “[…] an additional $10,000,000 is for Tribal Epidemiology Centers”

Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS and STDs Initiative: $52 million

  • Bill Report: “[…] an additional $47,000,000 is for the Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS and STDs initiative.”

Maternal Health: $10 million

  • Bill Report: “The recommendation also includes an additional $4,000,000 to improve maternal health with continued direction to report to the Committee within 180 days of enactment of this Act on use of funds, updates on staff hiring, status of related standards, and the amount of training provided with these funds.”

Alzheimer’s Disease: $5.5 million

  • Bill Report: “The recommendation maintains $5,500,000 to continue Alzheimer’s and related dementia activities at IHS. These funds will further efforts on Alzheimer’s awareness campaigns tailored for the AI/AN perspective to increase recognition of early signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias; quarterly, competency-based training curriculum, either in-person or virtually, for primary care practitioners to ensure a core competency on assessing, diagnosing, and managing individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias; pilot programs to increase early detection and accurate diagnosis, including evidence based caregiver services within Indian Country, inclusive of urban Indian organizations (UIO); and an annual report to the Committee with data elements including the prevalence of Alzheimer’s incidence in the preceding year, and access to services within 90 days of the end of each fiscal year. The Committee continues direction to develop a plan, in consultation with Indian Tribes and urban confer with UIOs, to assist those with Alzheimer’s, the additional services required, and the costs associated with increasing Alzheimer’s patients and submit this information to Congress within 270 days of enactment of this Act.”

Produce Prescription Pilot Program:

  • Bill Report: “The Committee continues $3,000,000 for IHS to create, in coordination with Tribes and UIOs, a pilot program to implement a produce prescription model to increase access to produce and other traditional foods among its service population. Within 60 days of enactment of this Act, the Committee expects IHS to explain how the funds are to be distributed and the metrics to be used to measure success of the pilot, which shall include engagement metrics, and may include appropriate health outcomes metrics, if feasible.”

Headache Disorders Centers of Excellence:

  • Bill Report: “The Committee recognizes that over 560,000 people under IHS care are living with migraine or severe headache disorders and that AI/AN communities have the highest prevalence of both disabling headache disorders and concussion/mild traumatic brain injuries, among any racial or ethnic group in the United States. The Committee is concerned that AI/AN patients with chronic migraine, post-traumatic headache, and other disabling headache disorders often do not receive necessary specialty care. The IHS is encouraged to consider the feasibility of IHS Headache Centers of Excellence and if feasible, developing a budget proposal to establish IHS Headache Centers of Excellence to provide direct care, telehealth, and consultation patient services, as well as education and training.”

NCUIH Submits Written Testimony to Senate Interior Appropriations with FY23 Budget Requests for Urban Indian Health

The National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) CEO, Francys Crevier (Algonquin), submitted public witness written testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 funding for Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) in response to the Subcommittee Hearing, “A Review of the Fiscal Year 2023 President’s Budget for the Indian Health Service,” held on May 11, 2022. NCUIH advocated in its testimony for additional resources for the Indian Health Service and urban Indian Health.

Full Text of Testimony

In the testimony, NCUIH requested the following:

  • $49.8 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS) and $949.9 million for Urban Indian Health for FY23 (as requested by the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup)
  • Advance appropriations for IHS until mandatory funding is enacted

These requests are essential to ensure that urban Indians are properly cared for and move us closer to fulfilling the federal government’s trust responsibility to American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs).

Background:

On March 28, 2022, President Biden released his discretionary budget request for FY23. This request includes $127.3 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), $9.1 billion in mandatory funding for IHS— an increase of $2.5 billion above the 2022 enacted level, and $112.5 million for Urban Indian Health— an increase of $39.1 billion above the 2022 enacted level.

NCUIH previously submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior regarding UIO funding for FY23 and reiterated that “The federal government owes a trust responsibility to tribes and AI/ANs that is not restricted to the borders of reservations. Funding for Indian health must be significantly increased if the federal government is, to finally, and faithfully, fulfill its trust responsibility.”

On May 27, 2022, 12 Senators echoed these requests in a letter to Chairman Jeff Merkley and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski of the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee. The letter emphasizes that increasing funding “is essential to providing quality, culturally-competent health care to AI/AN people living in urban areas.” Earlier, on April 26, 2022, 28 Representatives sent a letter to the House Interior Appropriations Committee with similar requests.

NEXT STEPS:

The testimony will be read and considered by the Subcommittee as the appropriations process goes forward for Fiscal Year 2023. The Senate markup schedule is yet to be released.

The House Interior Subcommittee markup for its FY 2023 appropriations bill will be held on June 21, 2022, and the Full Committee markup will be held on June 29, 2022. Further details on the timing and location of each markup are to be determined.

12 Senators Request Increased Resources for Urban Indian Health and Support Mandatory Funding for Indian Health in FY23

On May 27, 2022, 12 Senators requested up to $949.9 million for urban Indian health in FY23 and advanced appropriations for the Indian Health Service (IHS) until such time that authorizers move IHS to mandatory spending.

Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and 11 other Senators requested up to $949.9 million for urban Indian health in FY23 and advanced appropriations for IHS until such time that authorizers move IHS to mandatory in a letter to Chair Merkley and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski of the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee. The letter emphasizes that increasing funding “is essential to providing quality, culturally-competent health care to AI/AN people living in urban areas.” On April 26, 2022, a group of 28 Representatives sent a letter to the House Interior Appropriations Committee with the same requests.

This letter comes as a continued effort by the National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) to address acute health disparities for American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) living in urban areas, who suffer greater rates of chronic disease, infant mortality and suicide compared to all other populations that have only been exacerbated by COVID-19. Congress has acknowledged these significant health care disparities in Indian Country, but continuously underfunds IHS at around $4,000 per patient, and urban Indian organizations (UIOs) at less than $700 per patient even though AI/ANs living in urban areas comprise over two-thirds of the total AI/AN population.

The senators also stated their support for the President’s proposal of mandatory funding. The Indian health system is currently not shielded from the negative impacts of government shutdowns, continuing resolutions, and automatic sequestration cuts. Already underfunded, these disruptions can have serious consequences to UIOs’ ability to provide critical patient services.

This Appropriations letter sends a powerful and straightforward message to Chair Merkley and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, and members of the Senate that in order to fulfill the federal government’s trust responsibility to all AI/ANs to provide safe and quality healthcare, funding for urban Indian health must be significantly increased.

NCUIH is grateful for the support of the following Senators:

  1. Tina Smith
  2. Dianne Feinstein
  3. Tammy Baldwin
  4. Chris Van Hollen
  5. Amy Klobuchar
  6. Catherine Cortez Masto
  7. Maria Cantwell
  8. Alex Padilla
  9. Ben Ray Lujan
  10. Jacky Rosen
  11. Elizabeth Warren
  12. Bernard Sanders

Full Letter Text

Dear Chairman Merkley and Ranking Member Murkowski,

We write to thank you for your proven commitment to urban Indian health and the 41 Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) and to request you continue your support by appropriating $949.9 million for urban Indian health, supporting the President’s proposal for mandatory funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS), and securing advance appropriations for IHS in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

UIOs operate 77 facilities across the nation in 22 states, serving the approximately two thirds of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people who live in urban areas. UIOs are an important part of the IHS, which oversees a three-prong system for the provision of health care: Indian Health Service, Tribal Programs, and Urban Indian Organizations (I/T/U). UIOs are not eligible for other federal line items that IHS and Tribal facilities are, like hospitals and health clinics money, purchase and referred care dollars, or IHS dental services dollars. Therefore, this funding request is essential to providing quality, culturally-competent health care to AI/AN people living in urban areas.

Our request for $949.9 million for urban Indian health reflects the recommendation made by the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup (TBFWG), a group of Tribal leaders representing all twelve IHS service areas. The significantly increased request for FY23 reflects the full funding needed for urban Indian health. Tribal leaders are unified in this request for full funding.

Chronic underfunding of IHS and urban Indian health has contributed to the health disparities among AI/AN people. Additionally, AI/AN people living in urban areas suffer greater rates of chronic disease, infant mortality and suicide compared to all other populations. Urban Native populations are less likely to receive preventive care and are less likely to have health insurance.

Yet, despite the historical acknowledgement from Congress of the significant health care disparities in Indian Country, IHS is underfunded at around $4,000 per patient, and UIOs receive less than $700 per patient.

In order to fulfill the federal government’s trust responsibility to all AI/AN people to provide safe and quality healthcare, funding for urban Indian health must be significantly increased. It is also imperative that such an increase not be paid for by diminishing funding for already hard pressed IHS and Tribal providers. The solution to address the unmet needs of urban Native and all AI/AN people is an increase in the overall IHS budget.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, UIOs are reporting historic numbers of new patients. Should funding return to pre-pandemic levels, UIOs would not have the staff or resources to continue to meet the community need. A budget increase would allow UIOs, as well as IHS and Tribal facilities, to hire more staff, pay appropriate wages, and expand vital services, programs, and facilities.

Thank you for your continued support of urban Indian health and your consideration of this important request.

NCUIH Submits Written Testimony to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee with FY 2023 Budget Requests for Urban Indian Health

On May 10, 2022, The National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) submitted outside written testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 funding for Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs). NCUIH advocated in its testimony for full funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS) and urban Indian Health and increased resources for Native health programs.

In the testimony, NCUIH requested the following:

  • Fully fund IHS at $49.8 billion and Urban Indian Health at $949.9 million for FY23 (as requested by the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup)
  • Advance appropriations for IHS until mandatory funding is enacted
  • Increase funding for Electronic Health Record Modernization
  • Increase funding to $30 million for Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country (GHWIC)
  • Permanently reauthorize Native Connections (Tribal Behavioral Health Grant)
  • Include urban Indians in language for all health programs
  • Include UIOs in critical opioid grants

Full Text of Testimony:

National Council of Urban Indian Health – Testimony for Senate LHHS on FY2023 Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill

My name is Francys Crevier, I am Algonquin and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH). On behalf of NCUIH, the national advocate for health care for the over 70% of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) living off-reservation and the 41 Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) that serve these populations, I would like to thank Chairwoman Murray, Ranking Member Blunt, and Members of the Subcommittee for the opportunity to submit public witness testimony regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 appropriations. We respectfully request the following:

  • Fully fund the Indian Health Service (IHS) at $49.8 billion and Urban Indian Health at $949.9 million for FY23 (as requested by the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup)
  • Advance appropriations for IHS until mandatory funding is enacted
  • Increase funding for Electronic Health Record Modernization
  • Increase funding to $30 million for Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country (GHWIC)
  • Permanently reauthorize Native Connections (Tribal Behavioral Health Grant)
  • Include urban Indians in language for all health programs
  • Include UIOs in critical opioid grants
Fully fund the Indian Health Service at $49.8 billion and Urban Indian Health at $949.9 million for FY23 (as requested by the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup)

While your leadership was instrumental in providing the greatest investments ever for Indian health and urban Indian health, it is important that we continue in this direction to build on our successes. The average health care spending is around $12,000 per person, however, Tribal and IHS facilities receive only around $4,000 per patient.  UIOs receive just $672 per IHS patient – that is only 6 percent of the per capita amount of the national average. That’s what our organizations must work with to provide health care for urban Indian patients.

The federal trust obligation to provide health care to Natives is not optional, and we thus request Congress honor the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup (TBFWG) FY23 recommendations of $49.8 billion for IHS and $949.9 million for urban Indian health. That number is much greater than the FY21 enacted amount of $63.7 million, which truly demonstrates how far we have to go to reach the level of need for urban Indian health. At an IHS Area Report meeting where Tribal leaders presented their budget requests, one Oklahoma Tribal leader stated that “There are inadequate levels of funding to address the rising urban Indian population.” Congress must do more to fully fund the IHS in order to improve health outcomes for all Native populations at the amount requested.

In 2018 the Government Accountability Office (GAO-19-74R) reported that from 2013 to 2017, IHS annual spending increased by roughly 18% overall, and roughly 12% per capita. In comparison, annual spending at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), which has a similar charge to IHS, increased by 32% overall, with a 25% per capita increase during the same period. Similarly, spending under Medicare and Medicaid increased by 22% and 31% respectively. In fact, even though the VHA service population is only three times that of IHS, their annual appropriations are roughly thirteen times higher.

Currently, the entire Eastern seaboard is without any full-ambulatory UIOs due to lack of funding. The IHS has deemed the two remaining UIOs on the East Coast to be outreach and referral only, with a combined less than two-million-dollar budget. Unfortunately, the pandemic has shown that two outreach and referral UIOs to serve all urban Indians on the entire East Coast of the country is a failure to uphold the federal trust obligation. It is evident the UIO line item is insufficient to allow IHS to authorize our East Coast UIOs to open fully operational clinics. Native American Lifelines is actually two programs run in both Boston and Baltimore with an annual budget for both cities of $1.6 million.  During the height of the pandemic, that meant Native people living in urban areas on the East Coast had to go back to reservations to get their vaccine to take advantage of the IHS authority that would give them the vaccine early and hopefully not become a mortality statistic.

The federal government owes a trust responsibility to tribes and AI/ANs that is not restricted to the borders of reservations. Funding for Indian health must be significantly increased if the federal government is, to finally, and faithfully, fulfill its trust responsibility.

Advance Appropriations for IHS Until Mandatory Funding Is Enacted

The Indian health system, including IHS, Tribal facilities and UIOs, is the only major federal provider of health care that is funded through annual appropriations. If IHS were to receive mandatory funding or, at the least, advance appropriations, it would not be subject to the harmful effects of government shutdowns, automatic sequestration cuts, and continuing resolutions (CRs). When IHS is funded through a CR, the IHS can only expend funds for the duration of a CR, which prohibits longer term purchases, disrupts the contracts that allow UIOs to provide health care, and quite literally puts lives at risk. Because UIOs must rely on every dollar of limited federal funding they receive to provide critical patient services, any disruption has significant and immediate consequences.

NCUIH supports the President’s proposal in the FY 2023 Budget to fund the IHS through mandatory appropriations and to exempt IHS from proposed law sequestration.   The ten years of appropriated mandatory funding in the FY 2023 Budget will ensure predictability that will allow the I/T/U system to engage in long-term and strategic planning. The lack of consistent and clear funding creates significant barriers on the already underfunded IHS system. Until authorizers act to move IHS to mandatory funding, we request that Congress provide advance appropriations to the Indian health system to improve certainty and stability.

Increase funding for Electronic Health Record Modernization

We request your support for the Indian Health Service’s (IHS) transition to a new electronic health record (EHR) system for IHS and UIOs. As EHR modernization moves from planning to fruition, it is vitally important that appropriations continue to increase as appropriate to provide for its success. NCUIH Requests the committee to support this transition with $355.8 million in FY23 appropriations. NCUIH is also supportive of the inclusion of report language suggested by members of Congress in a letter to the House appropriations committee.[1]

CDC: Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country – $30 Million Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country (GHWIC)

The GHWIC program is CDC’s single largest investment in Indian Country. The program funds a total of 27 Tribes, Tribal organizations, and UIOs to improve chronic disease prevention efforts, expand physical activity, and reduce commercial tobacco use. The FY 2023 President’s Budget proposes maintaining at current levels of $22 million. NCUIH requests the Committee support the GHWIC program by increasing funding to $30 million for FY2023.

SAMHSA: Tribal Behavioral Health Grant (Native Connections) – $23.2 Million

The Tribal Behavioral Health Grant (known as Native Connections) is a five-year grant program that helps American Indian and Alaska Native communities identify and address the behavioral health needs of Native youth. The program supports grantees in reducing suicidal behavior and substance use among Native youth up to age 24, easing the impacts of substance use, mental illness, and trauma in tribal communities, and supporting youth as they transition into adulthood.

As of June 2021, SAMHSA had awarded 242 five-year grants to eligible AI/AN entities including UIOs. The program is up for reauthorization in 2022 and the FY23 President’s budget has a request of $23.2 million for the program, an increase of $2.5 million from the FY 2022 Annualized Continuing Resolution. NCUIH requests the committee support addressing the behavioral health needs of our Native communities by reauthorizing this critical program.

Include Urban Indians in Language for All Health Programs

The Declaration of National Indian Health Policy in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act states that: “Congress declares that it is the policy of this Nation, in fulfillment of its special trust responsibilities and legal obligations to Indians to ensure the highest possible health status for Indians and urban Indians and to provide all resources necessary to effect that policy.” In fulfillment of the National Indian Health Policy, the Indian Health Service funds three health programs to provide health care to AI/ANs: IHS sites, tribally operated health programs, and Urban Indian Organizations (referred to as the I/T/U). Unfortunately, this system has been hampered by decades of chronic underfunding. Additionally, while the majority of the Native population resides in urban areas, only 1% of the entire Indian health budget is provided for urban Indian health.

When urban Indians are not specifically mentioned in programmatic language they are most often excluded from participating in such programs. Many programs in the Health and Human Services appropriations bills include language for Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations, but not for urban Indian organizations. Urban Indian Organizations are not considered Tribal organizations, which is a common misconception. Therefore, UIOs must be explicitly included to receive funding. UIOs also do not have access to other IHS line items like IHS and Tribal facilities and do not receive hospitals and health clinics money, purchase and referred care dollars, or IHS dental services dollars, and are not eligible for the IHS facilities fund.

As one advocate stated, “The language everywhere has to include the word ‘urban’ – urban Indian or urban Native. They have to say it, they have to write it and then it’ll reach a critical mass, eventually. Because they don’t get it, you know. We’re just invisible.”[2]

Include UIOs in Critical Opioid Grants

UIOs have repeatedly been left out of funding designed to help AI/AN communities address the opioid crisis. To address the opioid overdose epidemic in Indian Country by increasing access to culturally appropriate and evidence-based treatment, Congress provided funding for Tribal Opioid Response grants. NCUIH has long advocated for UIOs to be added to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) State Opioid Response (SOR) grants given the extent of the impact of the opioid epidemic on all AI/ANs regardless of residence. Since FY 2018, Congress has enacted set asides in opioid response grants to help Native communities address this crisis. However, it was only available for Tribes and Tribal organizations, meaning UIOs working against the same problem are left without the resources necessary to reach the highest health status for all AI/ANs as required of the federal government. This is a failure of equity. Without the necessary funding to address health crises in Indian Country, urban AI/AN people will again be left out of the equation.

Last Spring, Congress introduced the State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act of 2021 (H.R. 2379), which included a 5 percent set-aside of the funds made available for each fiscal year for Indian Tribes, Tribal organizations, and UIOs to address substance abuse disorders through public health-related activities such as implementing prevention activities, establishing or improving prescription drug monitoring programs, training for health care practitioners, supporting access to health care services, recovery support services, and other activities related to addressing substance use disorders. NCUIH worked closely with Congressional leaders to ensure the inclusion of urban Indians in the funding set-aside outlined in this bill, which eventually passed the House on October 20, 2021. Despite this effort, UIOs were removed from the SOR Grant reauthorization, which saw a $5 million increase (9 percent increase from FY 2021), included in the recently passed FY 2022 Omnibus (H.R. 2471). The final language in the Omnibus only listed “Indian Tribes or Tribal organizations” as eligible and did not use the language from H.R. 2379. When UIOs are not explicitly stated as eligible entities, we are excluded from critical resources and grants, which is a violation of the trust obligation.

We were disappointed to yet again be left out of this key resource as our communities are plagued by the opioid crisis. Inclusion in this program could have enabled UIOs to expand services or workforce or to help address the catastrophic impacts of the opioid epidemic in Indian Country.  We urge you to work to ensure funding designated to help AI/AN communities have the proper language to prevent UIOs from lacking access to these critical funds.

Conclusion

These requests are essential to ensure that urban Indians are properly cared for, both during this crisis and in the critical times following. It is the obligation of the United States government to provide these resources for AI/AN people residing in urban areas. This obligation does not disappear in the midst of a pandemic, instead it should be strengthened, as the need in Indian Country is greater than ever. We urge Congress to take this obligation seriously and provide UIOs with all the resources necessary to protect the lives of the entirety of the AI/AN population, regardless of where they live.

[1] https://files.constantcontact.com/a3c45cb9201/562eb81b-dee4-48b8-8519-69bcbebb0ff2.pdf?rdr=true
[2] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/03/07/opioids-native-americans-funding/9380063002/?gnt-cfr=1

Bipartisan Group of Over Two Dozen Congressional Leaders Request Increased Resources for Urban Indian Health and Support Mandatory Funding for Indian Health in FY23

On April 26, 2022, 28 Congressional leaders requested up to $949.9 million for urban Indian health in FY23 and advanced appropriations for the Indian Health Service (IHS) until such time that authorizers move IHS to mandatory spending.

Reps. Grijalva and Gallego requested up to $949.9 million for urban Indian health in FY23 and advanced appropriations for IHS until such time that authorizers move IHS to mandatory in a letter to Chairwoman Pingree and Ranking Member Joyce of the House Interior Appropriations Committee. The letter stated that “this increase in funding is necessary to address health disparities in the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) population. AI/ANs are 3.2 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 and 2.2 times more likely to die from the virus when compared with white patients.”

This letter comes as a continued effort by the National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) to address acute health disparities for AI/ANs living in urban areas, who suffer greater rates of chronic disease, infant mortality and suicide compared to all other populations that have only been exacerbated by COVID-19. Congress has acknowledged these significant health care disparities in Indian Country, but continuously underfunds IHS at around $4,000 per patient, and urban Indian organizations (UIOs) at less than $700 per patient even though AI/ANs living in urban areas comprise over two-thirds of the total AI/AN population.

The Congressional leaders also stated their support for the President’s proposal of mandatory funding. The Indian health system is currently not shielded from the negative impacts of government shutdowns, continuing resolutions, and automatic sequestration cuts. Already underfunded, these disruptions can have serious consequences to UIOs’ ability to provide critical patient services. The letter states that, “until authorizers act to move IHS to mandatory funding, we request that your subcommittee provide advance appropriations to the Indian health system to improve certainty and stability.”

This Appropriations letter sends a powerful and straightforward message to Chairwoman Pingree, Ranking Member Joyce, and members of Congress that in order to fulfill the federal government’s trust responsibility to all AI/ANs to provide safe and quality healthcare, funding for urban Indian health must be significantly increased.

NCUIH is grateful for the support of the following Representatives:

  1. Ruben Gallego
  2. Raul Grijalva
  3. Don Bacon
  4. Nanette Barragán
  5. Shontel Brown
  6. Salud Carbajal
  7. Sharice Davids
  8. Diana DeGette
  9. Chuy García
  10. Sylvia Garcia
  11. Steven Horsford
  12. Pramila Jayapal
  13. Ro Khanna
  14. Teresa Leger Fernandez
  15. Zoe Lofgren
  16. Doris Matsui
  17. Donald McEachin
  18. Jerry McNerney
  19. Gwen Moore
  20. Eleanor Norton
  21. Tom O’Halleran
  22. Raul Ruiz
  23. Kim Schrier
  24. Terri Sewell
  25. Adam Smith
  26. Melanie Stansbury
  27. Greg Stanton
  28. Rashida Tlaib

Full Letter Text

Dear Chairwoman Pingree and Ranking Member Joyce:

We write to thank you for your proven commitment to urban Indian health and Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) and to request you continue your support by funding urban Indian health at the highest level possible up to $949.9 million and supporting advance appropriations for IHS in the FY 2023 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

UIOs provide health care for the over 70% of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) living off-reservation and are an important part of the Indian Health Service (IHS), which oversees a three-prong system for the provision of health care: the Indian Health Service, Tribal Programs, and UIOs (I/T/U). UIOs do not have access to other federal line items that IHS and Tribal facilities do, like hospitals and health clinics money, facilities funds, purchase and referred care (PRC) dollars, or IHS dental services dollars.

Our FY23 request for $949.9 million for urban Indian health reflects the recommendation made by the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup (TBFWG), which is comprised of sovereign Tribal leaders representing all twelve IHS service areas. For FY22, the House accepted and passed the TBFWG’s recommendation of $200.5 million for urban Indian health, reflecting the minimum investment we must make in urban Indian health. The marked increase between the FY22 and FY23 request is a result of Tribal leaders’ decision, over several decades, to provide budget recommendations based on a plan to phase in full funding for IHS and UIOs over 10-12 years to address growing health disparities that have largely been ignored. In FY23, Tribal leaders are unified in their request to fully fund UIO need at $949.9 million.

In its report, the TBFWG states that “Due to historically low funding levels for urban Indian health, UIOs are chronically underfunded. Full funding of UIOs will directly benefit urban Indians that rely on UIOs to access culturally-competent care.” If urban Indian health funding continues to be funded at its current pace, it will continue to contribute to the severe health disparities. Due to this fact, we respectfully request the highest possible funding for Urban Indian Health up to TBFWG’s recommendation of $949.9 million, and no less than the FY22 House passed level of $200.5 million.

This increase in funding is necessary to address health disparities in the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) population. AI/ANs are 3.2 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 and 2.2 times more likely to die from the virus when compared with white patients. Even before the pandemic, the population served by UIOs and IHS was particularly vulnerable. Pre-pandemic life expectancy for AI/ANs was more than four years below the national average and re-occurring health problems are more acute for AI/ANs living in urban areas, who suffer greater rates of chronic disease, infant mortality, and suicide. Yet, despite the historical acknowledgement from Congress of the significant health care disparities in Indian Country and among urban Indians, IHS is underfunded at around $4,000 per patient, with UIOs receiving less than $700 per patient. In order to fulfill the federal government’s trust responsibility to all AI/ANs to provide safe and quality healthcare, funding for urban Indian health must be significantly increased. It is also imperative that such an increase not be paid for by diminishing funding for already hard-pressed IHS and Tribal providers.

We also support the President’s proposal to make IHS funding mandatory. The Indian health system, including IHS, Tribal facilities and UIOs, is the only major federal provider of health care that is funded through annual appropriations. If IHS were to receive mandatory funding or, at the least, advance appropriations, it would not be subject to the harmful effects of government shutdowns, automatic sequestration cuts, and continuing resolutions (CRs). When IHS is funded through a CR, the IHS can only expend funds for the duration of a CR, which prohibits longer term purchases, disrupts the contracts that allow UIOs to provide health care, and quite literally puts lives at risk. Because UIOs must rely on every dollar of limited federal funding they receive to provide critical patient services, any disruption has significant and immediate consequences. Until authorizers act to move IHS to mandatory funding, we request that your subcommittee provide advance appropriations to the Indian health system to improve certainty and stability.

We thank you for your consideration of our request to provide as high a funding level as possible for urban Indian health and the 41 Title V UIOs up to $949.9 million and to support advance appropriations for IHS in the FY 2023 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

NCUIH 2022 Policy Priorities Released

The 2022 policy priorities were informed by NCUIH’s 2021 Annual Policy Assessment containing information collected from a series of focus groups held with urban Indian organization (UIO) leaders and a questionnaire to UIOs.

NCUIH is pleased to announce the release of its 2022 Policy Priorities, which outlines the most pressing Congressional and Federal issues for UIOs. These priorities were informed by NCUIH’s 2021 Policy Assessment.

Last year, NCUIH hosted five focus groups to identify UIO policy priorities for 2022, as they relate to Indian Health Service (IHS)-designated facility types (full ambulatory, limited ambulatory, outreach and referral, and outpatient and residential). Information was also collected from UIOs via a questionnaire. This is the second year that NCUIH has conducted focus groups and sent a questionnaire to UIOs to formulate key legislative priorities for the following year.

Overview

Upholding the highest health status for all American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), parity in the Indian health system, and improving IHS are the overall themes for the 2022 priorities. New priorities were identified, such as achieving full funding for IHS and urban Indian health, advancing HIV efforts in AI/AN communities, improving data in Indian health, and improving IHS area office consistency. Existing priorities also remain a key focus across the UIOs, especially funding flexibility, improving federal dialogue with all AI/ANs through urban confer policies, and parity issues such as permanent 100% Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP).

2022 Policy Priorities:

Upholding the Highest Health Status for All American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs)

  • Fully Fund the Indian Health Service (IHS) and Urban Indian Health at the Amounts Requested by Tribes
    • FY 2023 Request for IHS: $49.8 billion.
    • FY 2023 Request for the Urban Indian Line Item: $949.9 million.
  • Improving Behavioral Health for All American Indians and Alaska Natives
    • Enact the Native Behavioral Health Access Improvement Act (H.R. 4251/S. 2226) to Provide at Least $200 million Annually to Indian Health Care Providers.
    • Enact the State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act of 2021 (H.R. 2379) to Provide Critical Investments to Tribes, Tribal Organizations, and UIOs to Fight the Opioid Epidemic.
  • Attain Advance Appropriations for Indian Health and Improve Funding Certainty
    • Enact the Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act (H.R. 5567/S. 2985) and Indian Health Service Advance
      Appropriations Act (H.R. 5549) to Insulate Indian Health Care Providers from Shutdowns.
    • Allow UIOs to Receive all Funds at the Start of a Continuing Resolution (Exception Apportionment)
  • “Nothing About Us Without Us”: Improving Health Outcomes Through Dialogue
    • Enact the Urban Indian Health Confer Act (H.R. 5221) to Establish an Urban Confer for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
    • Include UIOs in Advisory Committees that Focus on Indian Health.
    • Establish an Urban Indian Interagency Work Group to Identify the Needs and Develop Strategies to Better Serve Urban AI/AN Populations.
  • Improving Native Veteran Health Outcomes
    • Establish an Urban Confer for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
    • Enact the STRONG Veterans Act of 2022 (H.R.6411).
  • Special Diabetes Program for Indians: A Proven Case of Decreased Diabetes Prevalence and Improved
    Health Outcomes for AI/AN People

    • Permanently Reauthorize Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) at a Minimum of $250 Million Annually.
  • Healing from Federal Boarding Schools
    • Enact the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act
      (H.R.5444/S.2907).
  • Ending the Pandemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples (MMIP)
    • Enact the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (S. 3623).
  • Improving Data in Indian Health
    • Enact the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act (H.R. 3841).
  • Improving the Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic for AI/ANs
    • Enact the Tribal Medical Supplies Stockpile Access Act of 2022 (H.R. 6372/S. 3444).
  • Tackling the Stigma and Advancing HIV Efforts in AI/AN Communities
    • Increase Innovative Resources to Reduce Stigma and Fear Around HIV in AI/AN Communities.
    • Increase Behavioral Health Support Resources at UIOs for AI/ANs Living with HIV.

Parity in the Indian Health System

  • Increasing Resources Supporting Medicaid-IHS Beneficiaries
    • Enact the Urban Indian Health Parity Act (H.R. 1373 or H.R. 1888) to Ensure Permanent Full (100%) Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for Services Provided at UIOs.
  • Improving the Indian Health Workforce
    • Inclusion of UIOs in National Community Health Aide Program (CHAP).

Improving the Indian Health Service

  • Data is Dollars: Ensuring Accurate Data Collection in the Indian Health System
    • Health IT/Electronic Health Record (EHR) Improvement and IHS National Data Warehouse Reporting
  • Continuity in the Indian Health System
    • Improve Area Office Consistency.
  • Elevate the Health Care Needs of Native Americans Within the Federal Government
    • Enact the Stronger Engagement for Indian Health Needs Act (H.R. 6406) to elevate the IHS Director to Assistant Secretary for Indian Health.

Read the 2022 Policy Priorities

Read the 2021 Policy Assessment

President Biden Continues to Demonstrate Strong Commitment to Urban Indians, Proposes Over 50% Increase for Urban Indian Health for FY 2023

The FY 2023 budget request includes $113 million for urban Indian health, a 53% increase over the FY 2022 enacted amount and mandatory appropriations for IHS.

On April 25, 2022, the Indian Health Service (IHS) published their Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Congressional Justification with the full details of the President’s Budget, which includes $112.5 million for Urban Indian Health— a 53.2% increase above the FY 2022 enacted amount of $73.4 million. According to the IHS Congressional Justification,This funding increase could support an estimated 1,072,935 health care, outreach, and referral services to Urban Indian users in FY 2023.” The President’s proposal included a total of $127.3 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and, for the first time ever, $9.3 billion in mandatory funding for IHS for the first year, which includes $9.1 billion in proposed law funding and $147 million in current law funding for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI). The budget proposes increased funding for IHS each year over ten years, building to $36.7 billion in FY 2032, to keep pace with population growth, inflation, and healthcare costs.

“The Indian Health System and urban Indian health have long been severely underfunded: only 1% of the Indian health budget goes to urban Indian health despite more than 70% of American Indians and Alaska Natives residing in urban areas. We are grateful for the President’s inclusion of $113 million for urban Indian health in FY 2023. President Biden has shown a strong commitment to urban Indian communities, and we recognize this Administration’s dedication to improving outcomes for all of Indian Country. As the final amount still falls well short of fully funding the Indian Health Service to properly provide health care services for all Natives in the United States to meet the trust responsibility, we will continue to push Congress to provide all the resources necessary to protect the lives of the entire Native population, regardless of where they live,”

– Francys Crevier (Algonquin), CEO, NCUIH

 

Line Item

FY21
Enacted

FY22 Enacted

FY23 TBFWG Request

FY23
President’s
Budget

Urban Indian Health  $62,684,000 $73,424,000  $949,900,000  $112,514,000
Indian Health Service $6,236,279,000 $6,630,986,000 $49,800,000,000 $9,100,000,000

 

The National Council of Urban Indian Health requested full funding for urban Indian health for FY 2023 at $949.9 million and at least $49.8 billion for IHS in accordance with the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup (TBFWG) recommendations. The marked increase for FY23 is a result of Tribal leaders, over several decades, providing budget recommendations to phase in funding increases over 10-12 years to address growing health disparities that have largely been ignored. The Congressional Justification states, “IHS recognizes that we must continue to work in consultation with Tribes and confer with Urban Indian Organizations, and with our partners in Congress, to ensure the budget is structured and implemented correctly with the resources identified over the next 10 years.”

Background and Advocacy

On March 28, 2022, President Biden released his budget request for Fiscal Year FY 2023, pending the more detailed IHS budget request released April 25, which includes specifics on the IHS budget request, including the funding recommendations for urban Indian health.

On April 5, 2022, NCUIH President-Elect and CEO of the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley, Sonya Tetnowski (Makah Tribe), testified before and submitted public witness written testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies regarding FY 2023 funding for Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs). NCUIH requested $49.8 billion for the Indian Health Service and $949.9 million for Urban Indian Health for FY 2023 as requested by the TBFWG, Advance appropriations for IHS, and support of mandatory funding for IHS including UIOs.

NCUIH recently worked closely with Representatives Gallego and Grijalva on leading a Congressional letter to the House Committee on Appropriations in support of increasing the urban Indian health line item for FY 2023. The letter has bipartisan support and calls for the highest possible funding for Urban Indian Health up to the TBFWG’s recommendation of $949.9 million and advanced appropriations for IHS until such time that authorizers move IHS to mandatory spending.

Next Steps

The Appropriations Committees will review the President’s Budget for consideration as they craft their bills for FY 2023. NCUIH will continue to work with the Biden Administration and Congress to push for full funding of urban Indian health in FY 2023.

PRESS RELEASE: NCUIH Testifies at Two Congressional Hearings Regarding Critical Funding for Urban Indian Health

Congressional leaders emphasized the need to increase resources for urban Indian health and provide opioid funding for urban Indian communities.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NCUIH Contact: Meredith Raimondi, Vice President of Public Policy, mraimondi@ncuih.org, 202-417-7781

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 5, 2022) – The National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) President-Elect and CEO of the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley, Sonya Tetnowski (Makah Tribe), testified before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee as part of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Public Witness Day hearing regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 funding for Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs). Maureen Rosette (Chippewa Cree Nation), NCUIH board member and Chief Operating Officer of NATIVE Project, testified before the House Natural Resources Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee for a hearing entitled, “The Opioid Crisis in Tribal Communities.” In their testimonies, NCUIH leaders highlighted the critical health needs of urban Indians and the needs of the Indian health system.

NCUIH thanks the members of the subcommittees for the opportunity to testify on the needs of urban Indians and encourages Congress to continue to prioritize urban Indian health in FY 2023 and years to come.

House Appropriators Demonstrate Strong Commitment to Indian Health

NCUIH President-Elect Tetnowski testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee along with Ms. Fawn Sharp for the National Congress of American Indians, Mr. Jason Dropik for the National Indian Education Association, and Mr. William Smith for the National Indian Health Board. The House Appropriations Committee uses testimony provided to inform the FY 2023 Appropriations decisions.

NCUIH requested the following:

  • $49.8 billion for the Indian Health Service (FY22 Enacted: $6.6 billion) and $949.9 million for Urban Indian Health (FY22 Enacted: $73.4 million) for FY 2023 as requested by the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup
  • Advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service (IHS)
  • Support of mandatory funding for IHS including UIOs

Full Funding for the Indian Health System a Priority for Congress

Many Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle noted the need to increase resources for Indian health in order to meet the trust responsibility. The federal trust obligation to provide health care to Natives is not optional and must be provided no matter where they reside,” said Ms. Tetnowski in her testimony, “Funding for Indian health must be significantly increased if the federal government is, to finally, and faithfully, fulfill its trust responsibility.”

Ranking Member David Joyce (R-OH-14) agreed with Ms. Tetnowski, “There is still much to do to fulfill the trust responsibility.” Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID-02), also emphasized that more must be done so “there’s not disparity between Indian Health Services and other health services delivered by the federal government.”

President Sharp stated, “This subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes some of the most critical funding for Indian Country. As detailed in the 2018 Broken Promises Report, chronically underfunded and inefficiently structured federal programs have left some of the most basic obligations of the United States to tribal nations unmet for centuries. We call on this subcommittee in Congress to get behind the vision of tribal leaders for right these wrongs by providing the full and adequate funding for Indian country.”

The Case for Mandatory and Advance Appropriations for IHS

The Indian health system, including IHS, Tribal facilities and UIOs, is the only major federal provider of health care that is funded through annual appropriations. For example, the Veterans Health Administration at the Department of Veterans Affairs receives most of its funding through advance appropriations. If IHS were to receive advance appropriations, it would not be subject to government shutdowns, automatic sequestration cuts, and continuing resolutions (CRs) as its funding for the next year would already be in place. According to the Congressional Research Service, since FY 1997, IHS has once (in FY 2006) received full-year appropriations by the start of the fiscal year.

“During the most recent 35-day government shutdown at the start of FY 2019, the Indian health system was the only federal healthcare entity that shut down. UIOs are so chronically underfunded that several UIOs had to reduce services, lose staff, or close their doors entirely, forcing them to leave their patients without adequate care. Advance appropriations is imperative to provide certainty to the IHS system and ensure unrelated budget disagreements do not put lives at stake,” said Ms. Tetnowski.

Many Members of Congress were interested in hearing more about the differences between mandatory and advance appropriations. In her opening remarks, Chair Pingree pointed out that the mandatory funding proposal, if implemented, would remove the jurisdiction from the Appropriations Committee to the authorizing committees. Both NCAI President Sharp and NIHB Chair Smith also expressed support for the mandatory funding proposal from President Biden. Mr. Smith testified the President’s proposal is “a bold vision to end chronic underfunding and building a comprehensive Indian health care system. We urge Congress to support the request and work together with administrations and the tribes to see that as passed into law.”

Rep. Simpson sought to clarify whether both Advance Appropriations and Mandatory Appropriations remain priorities for Indian Country. President Sharp explained that “both [advance and mandatory funding] are critically important” in fulfillment of the trust responsibility while noting that basic health should be a mandatory expenditure of the United States government. President-Elect Tetnowski also stated that, “Advance appropriations would ensure that we weren’t shut down during any type of government closure. IHS is currently the only health care [provider] in the Federal government that does not have advanced appropriations.”

Resources

Congressional Leaders Express Support for Expanding Opioid Funding to Urban Indians

“Opioid overdose deaths during the pandemic increased more in Native American communities than in communities for any other racial or ethnic group,” said Representative Katie Porter (D-CA-45), “to address this crisis, we need to provide more resources for tribal governments and urban Indian health organizations to treat the opioid epidemic.” 

Urban Indians Left out of Opioid Grant Funding

Funding to assist AI/AN communities to address the opioid crisis have repeatedly left out urban Indians. UIOs were not eligible for the funding designated to help Native communities in the State Opioid Response (SOR) Grant reauthorization included in the recently passed FY 2022 Omnibus (H.R. 2471) despite inclusion of UIOs in the SOR bill (H.R. 2379) that passed the House on October 20, 2021. The final language in the omnibus (H.R. 2471) did not explicitly include “Urban Indian Organizations” as eligible and did not use the language from H.R. 2379. While this was likely a result of legislative text being copied from previous legislation, this prohibits urban Indian health providers from being able to access the critical funding needed to combat the opioid crisis.

“During the last government shutdown, one UIO suffered 12 opioid overdoses, 10 of which were fatal. This represents 10 relatives who are no longer part of our community,” Ms. Rosette emphasized, “These are mothers, fathers, uncles, and aunties no longer present in the lives of their families. These are tribal relatives unable to pass along the cultural traditions that make us, as Native people, who we are.”

Responding to a question from Rep. Stansbury (D-NM-01) on what the committee can do to help support UIO’s work on the ground to address the opioid crisis in Native communities, Ms. Rosette reiterated, “Funding is always an obstacle for us. Grants, like the state opioid response grant, would allow us to provide culturally appropriate treatment to our community, but we were not included. You have to specifically say “urban” along with “tribal” otherwise we are not allowed to get the funding.”

Opioid Epidemic in AI/AN Communities

Since 1974, AI/AN adolescents have consistently had the highest substance abuse rates than any other racial or ethnic group in the U.S. Urban AI/AN populations are also at a much higher risk for behavioral health issues than the general population. For instance, 15.1% of urban AI/AN persons report frequent mental distress compared to 9.9% of the general public.

Additionally, the opioid crisis and COVID-19 pandemic are intersecting with each other and presenting unprecedented challenges for AI/AN families and communities. On October 7, 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study on caregiver deaths by race and ethnicity. According to the study, 1 of every 168 AI/AN children experienced orphanhood or death of caregivers due to the pandemic and AI/AN children were 4.5 times more likely than white children to lose a parent or grandparent caregiver. Unfortunately, this has exacerbated mental health and substance use issues among our youth. In the age group of 15-24, AI/AN youth have a suicide rate that is 172% higher than the general population in that age group.

Resources

Next Steps

NCUIH will continue to advocate for full funding of Indian Health Service and urban Indian health at the amounts requested by Tribal leaders as well as for additional resources for the opioid response for Native communities.