Posted: February 28, 2019
In follow-up to the Indian Health Service (IHS) request for comments on the Draft IHS Strategic Plan Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-2022 issued in the Federal Register (FR) on July 24, 2018, (see 83 FR 35012; July 24, 2018; hereafter “July 2018 FR document”), the IHS is announcing the final plan entitled: IHS Strategic Plan FY 2019-2023. The IHS is also making available on the IHS Strategic Plan website, a response to comments document that addresses comments received on the Draft IHS Strategic Plan from the July 2018 FR document.
RADM Francis Frazier, Director, Office of Public Health Support, IHS, 5600 Fishers Lane, Mail Stop: 09E10D, Rockville, Maryland 20857. Telephone number: 301-443-0222 (This is not a toll-free number), email address: IHSStrategicPlan@ihs.gov. In addition, progress on the IHS Strategic Plan will be periodically updated on the IHS website at: ihs.gov/strategicplan/
The IHS, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is responsible for providing federal health services to American Indians and Alaska Natives. The provision of health services to members of federally-recognized Tribes grew out of the special government-to-government relationship between the federal government and Indian Tribes. Established in 1787, this relationship is based on Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution and has been given form and substance by numerous treaties, laws, Supreme Court decisions, and Executive Orders. The IHS is the principal federal health care provider and health care advocate for Indian people. The IHS provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
The IHS Strategic Plan, covering FY 2019-2023, includes a mission statement, a vision statement, and details on how the IHS will achieve its mission through three strategic goals: (1) To ensure that comprehensive, culturally appropriate personal and public health services are available and accessible to American Indian and Alaska Native people; (2) To promote excellence and quality through innovation of the Indian health system into an optimally performing organization; and (3) To strengthen IHS program management and operations. These strategic goals are supported by objectives that reflect the outcomes the IHS is working to achieve and strategies describe how the IHS plans to make progress toward the objectives.
The IHS Strategic Plan reflects the feedback received from Tribes, Tribal organizations, urban Indian organizations, staff, and other stakeholders. The IHS used a process Start Printed Page 6797similar to the HHS Strategic Plan FY 2018-2022 and gathered feedback from key partners including staff, Tribes, and urban Indian organizations. Informed by a variety of source documents, the IHS first developed a draft initial framework and initiated Tribal consultation and urban Indian confer on the draft initial framework from September 15, 2017, through October 31, 2017. During the initial framework comment period, the IHS held listening sessions, presented at Tribal meetings, and held conference calls with Tribal and urban Indian organization leaders. Comments were also accepted after October 31, 2017, on an ongoing basis.
An IHS Federal-Tribal Strategic Planning Workgroup (workgroup) reviewed the draft initial framework comments received from 150 Tribes, Tribal organizations, urban Indian organizations, and IHS staff. The workgroup suggested strategies during six meetings from November 2017 through February 2018 and made recommendations for the Draft IHS Strategic Plan FY 2018-2022, published in the FR on July 24, 2018. Workgroup membership included Tribal leaders or their designees, a representative from the IHS Office of Urban Indian Health Programs, and IHS staff from areas, service unit, and headquarters.
On July 24, 2018, the Draft IHS Strategic Plan was published in the FR for a 30-day public review and comment period. The IHS provided formal letters regarding the Draft IHS Strategic Plan release to Tribal and urban Indian organization leaders and notification of two virtual town hall sessions, one for urban confer and one for Tribal consultation on August 3 and August 6, 2018, respectively. The IHS received 123 comments, including questions, comments, and recommendations on the specific elements of the plan and other comments related to the terminology used in the IHS Strategic Plan, implementation of strategies, measures, and the IHS strategic planning process. The IHS reviewed all comments and carefully considered changes before publishing the IHS Strategic Plan FY 2019-2023.
The IHS Strategic Plan FY 2019-2023 includes minor language updates to the Vision, Goal 1, Objectives 2.2 and 3.1, and several strategies to clarify intent and adds urban Indian organizations, where appropriate. The IHS Strategic Plan timeframe is updated from FY 2018-2022 to FY 2019-2023 since the plan is being released during FY 2019. Significant changes to the IHS Strategic Plan include the following additional sections: an introduction, strategic plan development, performance, and appendices. These additional sections are in response to the comments received. Several commenters recommended addressing the unique government-to-government relationship with Tribal governments and the provision of health services based on this relationship, clarification about non-IHS participation in the development of the IHS Strategic Plan, recommendations to include measures and track progress, and to include more information about the alignment with the HHS Strategic Plan FY 2018-2022.