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Day 2 of debate on Indian Health Care Improvement
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Filed Under: Health | Politics

Updates Posted At Top

6:22pm - Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is on the floor. He said "progress" has been made on IHCIA. He said some amendments have been filed. He said "compromises" have been made with Republicans on certain issues. He is developing a list of final amendments and hopes to complete work on the bill "as soon as possible." The Senate is now onto the Foreign Intelligence Security Bill. That's all for today.

6:14pm - Quorum call.

6:01pm - Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) is on the floor. He isn't talking about IHCIA.

5:48pm - Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is on the floor talking about the war.

5:43pm - Sen. Pat Murray (D-Washington) is finished talking about IHCIA and is moving onto economic issues.

5:33pm - Sen. Pat Murray (D-Washington) is on the floor. She said the bill will make a "critical difference" to American Indians and Native Americans across the country. She said tribes are trying to address health care disparities but their efforts are "hindered because the Indian Health Service is badly in need of updating." IHCIA would "modernize" the IHS system, she said.

Murray is also talking about urban Indians and mentions the Bush administration has tried to cut funding for urban Indian health centers every year.

5:19pm - Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is talking about self-determination and self-governance. "The legislation, S.1200, embraces these policies in a very profound manner," she said. She said tribes and Alaska Natives have taken over health care services to make them more relevant and cost-effective for their communities.

5:12pm - Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is talking about violence against Native women. "There is one area where I don't believe we have made any progress and one that we are addressing in this bill," she said. She said Native women in Anchorage make up 24 percent of sexual assault victims and are four times as likely to be raped than a non-Native women. "Our statistics are horrendous, they are deeply, deeply troubling," she said.

5:05pm - Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is on the floor. She says Indian Country has been waiting a long time for the bill to pass but that are issues to address. She is talking about the limited health care options for military veterans in rural Alaska Native villages. "These soldiers who are returning, they need to go to the VA for services [but] they don't have a VA out in Chugach, they don't have a VA facility out in Atka," she said.

4:56pm - Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) is back. He is talking about Lyle Frechette, a late member of the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin, who moved to Milwaukee after the tribe was terminated by Congress.

4:44pm - Sen. Kan Salazar (D-Colorado) is on the floor to talk about the bill. He specifically mentions urban Indians. "For the 25,000 Native Americans in Denver, there is only one health care facility that is available to meet their health care needs," he said. He said Indians in Denver have to go to Albuquerque, New Mexico, or Rapid City, South Dakota, for specialized care.

4:42pm - Quorum call.

4:39pm - Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) is on the floor. "The nine treaty tribes and to hundreds across the country, this bill is truly a matter of life and death," he says.

4:34pm - Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) is back. He says Republicans have been absent due to an issues meeting they are holding today. He says S.1200 will be pulled in order for the Senate to debate the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. After that bill is complete, IHCIA will be back on the agenda -- possibly next week.

4:18pm - Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) is done. Quorum call.

3:48pm - Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) just asked to talk for 30 minutes about national security and intelligence. She says more Senators are coming to the floor to talk about the same issue.

3:24pm - Quorum call.

3:10pm - Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) has been talking about national security and intelligence.

2:56pm - "We likely will not get this bill done by the end of this afternoon," Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) said. There's now a quorum call.

Note: Correction has been made. The accounts of Ardel Hale Baker and the second woman were inadvertently mixed up into one single story.
2:53pm - Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) talks about Ardel Hale Baker, from the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, who came to the Indian Health Service suffering from a heart attack. IHS staff taped a letter to her leg that stated there weren't enough funds to pay for her treatment.

He described a second woman who went to IHS with leg problems and was told to wrap her leg in cabbage leaves. "The doctor who subsequently treated her off the reservation said it was unbelievable," he said.

"This country has a responsibility to do better," Dorgan said.

2:45pm - Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) is now talking about S.1200. "Some might say where is there an Indian Health Care Improvement Act?" he says. He goes on to explain the federal government's responsibility to provide health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives.

2:43pm - Housekeeping: The National Indian Health Board mis-attributed a statement made by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona). It was McConnell, the Senate minority leader, who said, "American lives will not depend on the passage of Indian health care by the end of this month," during the morning business yesterday [NIHB].

2:26pm - Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, is up. He says amendments will be offered but suggests the bill might not be completed today due to a pending intelligence bill. He is going to use 15 minutes to talk about the economy and will return to S.1200 after he finishes.

2:23pm - Still in morning business. Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colorado) is talking.

2:15pm - The Senate is back. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) said Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) will be speaking on the bill. She is talking about cloned foods right now.


The Senate is expected to resume debate on S.1200, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, at 2:15pm today.

Supporters had hoped to vote on the bill yesterday. But amid a veto threat from President Bush, efforts were being made to address the last-minute objections [Statement of Administration Policy].

"The fact is there are people dying in this country because of inadequate health care," Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee said.

Indianz.Com will be providing updates on today's debate. Yesterday's coverage is available here.

Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments:
S.1200 | H.R.1328

House Energy and Commerce Committee Documents:
Summary | Manager's Amendment | Press Release | Webcast

Relevant Documents:
Letter to President Bush | Letter to Alberto Gonzales | DOJ White Paper

Relevant Links:
Indian Health Service -
National Indian Health Board -

Related Stories:
Senate opens long-delayed debate on IHCIA (1/22)
Sen. Coburn won't hold up Indian health bill (1/21)
Abourezk: GOP candidates silent on IHCIA (1/18)
Senate expected to vote on Indian Health Care Act (1/17)
Sen. Dorgan: Indian health care an embarrassment (12/7)
Arizona rebuffed on Indian health care costs (12/4)
House subcommittee approves Indian health care bill (11/08)
IHCIA delayed but could come up next week (10/26)
Long-delayed IHCIA set for vote in Senate (10/22)
Indian health care leaders win prestigious award (10/04)
Indian Country rallies for health care in U.S. Capitol (09/13)

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