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Sen. Domenici pushes for Indian diabetes program
Friday, August 3, 2007
Filed Under: Health

Sen. Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, pressed for renewal of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians on Thursday.

Domenici is co-sponsoring S.1494 with Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the chairman of the committee. The bill extends the diabetes program for another five years and provides $200 million annually, up from $150 million annually, for tribes to fight the disease.

Domenici was prepared to add S.1494 as an amendment to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program legislation approved yesterday. But he agreed to hold off after Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) agreed to make reauthorization a priority as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

The exchange between Domenici and Baucus follows. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), both co-sponsors of S.1494, expressed their support.
Mr. DOMENICI. Mr. President, I want to begin by complimenting the chairman, the Senator from Montana, Mr. Baucus, and the ranking member, the Senator from Iowa, Mr. Grassley, for all their work on this Children's Health Insurance Program. You have taken a very difficult and contentious issue and produced legislation that will help many families. You should be congratulated.

I would like to raise the issue of diabetes as part of the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. I have offered an amendment along with my colleague Senator Dorgan, which would reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program for Indians and the Special Funding Program for type 1 diabetes research. This amendment is identical to the language in S. 1494, which I also introduced with Senator Dorgan.

Diabetes is one of the most serious and devastating health problems of our time. Although diabetes occurs in people of all ethnicities, the diabetes epidemic is particularly acute in our Native American populations. That is why during the negotiations on the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, the same bill that created this SCHIP program, I helped craft an agreement to finance diabetes programs of the Indian Health Service and help raise the profile of tribal health programs. The Special Diabetes Program for Indians began with funding of $30 million annually for 5 years and was later expanded to $150 million a year. This funding has been used widely in Indian country, including among the Navajo Nation and the 19 Pueblos in New Mexico.

These programs are set to expire in 2008, and I believe they need to be a priority in this Congress.

Mr. BAUCUS. I want to thank the Senators from New Mexico and North Dakota for their leadership on this important issue. I have worked hard in previous Congresses to support this program and helped shepherd its last reauthorization as part of the 107th Congress. It is important that we work together to make sure our Native American and rural communities have the resources they need to provide treatment and prevention programs. It is important to support research to work to find a cure for this disease. Although we were not able to include this provision in the bill that is before us on the floor, I am aware that these critical programs expire in 2008; and that the reauthorization of these programs is a priority for the Finance Committee.

Mr. GRASSLEY. I would also like to thank my colleagues for their leadership on this issue. I share your concern with the diabetes epidemic in the United States and especially the effect it is having on our Native American communities. I support the reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians and also the reauthorization of the Special Funding Program for type I diabetes research. The prevention and treatment of diabetes has improved greatly over the past decade. These programs have clearly played a major role in these improvements. I also look forward to working with my colleagues to reauthorize these programs during this Congress.

Mr. HATCH. I would also like to speak in support of the reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians and the Special Funding Program for type I diabetes research. My record as an advocate for diabetes research and treatment programs is well documented. I have helped to lead the efforts in past years to reauthorize these programs and I look forward to working with my colleagues to make the reauthorization of these programs a priority for the Finance Committee this Congress.

Mr. DOMENICI. I want to thank the Senators for their time. With that I will withdraw my amendment and I ask the chair that my amendment No. 2629 be withdrawn.

Relevant Documents:
House Letter | Senate Letter

SCIA Hearing:
BUSINESS MEETING to consider pending legislative business, to be followed immediately by an OVERSIGHT HEARING on diabetes in Indian Country, with particular focus on the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (February 8, 2007)

Relevant Links:
National Indian Health Board - http://www.nihb.org
National Diabetes Program, Indian Health Service - http://www.ihs.gov/MedicalPrograms/Diabetes/index.asp

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