indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Congress fails to pass critical Indian health care bill
Monday, October 13, 2008
Filed Under: Health | National | Politics

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill went home for the November election last week without taking action on one of the biggest priorities for Indian Country.

The Indian Health Care Improvement Act has been stalled in Congress for more than seven years. Tribal leaders gained hope when it cleared the Senate in February and appeared ready to pass the House.

Instead, the national economic crisis took center stage and despite last-minute attempts by tribal advocates, the bill failed to get a vote. That left many in Indian Country upset and angry.

"Several members of Congress promised Indian Country that the IHCIA would be passed in the 110th session," said National Congress of American Indians President Joe Garcia. "Sadly it did not, and sadly Indian people will continue to suffer from astounding health disparities."

When Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007, they told NCAI and other Indian organizations like the United South and Eastern Tribes that the IHCIA was their top priority. They criticized Republicans for focusing on gaming and gaming-related controversies in the 109th Congress.

But a different hot-button issue grabbed their attention -- the disenfranchisement of the Freedmen from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. The tribe came under fire for voting to exclude the descendants of former slaves from citizenship.

Nearly every piece of Indian legislation was put in doubt as lawmakers sought to cut federal funds to the tribe unless the Freedmen were reinstated. The IHCIA passed the Senate without Cherokee restrictions but it stalled in the House, where members had included similar provisions in the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act.

After a federal appeals court cleared the tribe from a lawsuit over the Freedmen, the NAHASDA reauthorization finally advanced in Congress. The tribe credited lawmakers of both parties for removing language that punished the tribe. The bill, H.R.2786, now awaits President Bush's signature.

The IHCIA reauthorization appeared to be headed towards similar success until the economic meltdown dominated the agenda in September, the last full month of work for the 110th Congress. But another sensitive political issue -- abortion -- affected its passage, according to advocates and lobbyists who spoke to Indian Country Today about the bill.

Republicans in the Senate added language to the bill to prevent the Indian Health Service from using federal funds for abortion services. The National Indian Health Board called the amendment unnecessary because existing law contains similar restrictions.

According to ICT, lawmakers didn't want to call a vote on the bill so close to the election because National Right to Life said it would "score" the bill and make it a campaign issue. "We'll fight back if they try to hijack our bill again," Kitty Marx, the legislative director of NIHB, told the paper.

Despite the IHCIA's failure, there were some important achievements in the 110th Congress. Besides the NAHASDA reauthorization, the biggest news was a surprising $2 billion boost for law enforcement, health care and water projects in Indian Country as part of S.2731, a global health bill.

There was also a long overdue recognition for all of the Indian soldiers who used their languages to help the military during World War I, World War II and other operations. H.R.4544, the Code Talkers Recognition Act, awaits Bush's signature.

H.R.6893, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, included a title to put tribes on equal footing with states for federal foster care funds. Bush signed the bill into law on October 7.

H.R.1424, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, also included tribal language. It extended two tax credits that encourage economic development and employment in Indian Country, in addition to the provisions aimed at preventing the American economy from collapsing.

Finally, individual tribes across the country saw action on their bills. H.R.6370, the Oregon Surplus Federal Land Act, a bill to return ancestral land to the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians of Oregon was signed into law on Friday.

S.3128, the White Mountain Apache Tribe Rural Water System Loan Authorization Act, also cleared Congress and is ready for action from Bush. H.R.2963, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians Land Transfer Act, is at the White House.



Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tim Giago: Lakota and Pueblo Indians on Pine Ridge Reservation (7/28)
Native Sun News: President of Oglala Sioux Tribe dodges bullets (7/28)
Puyallup fashion designer competes for prize in Project Runway (7/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets business meeting on bills (7/28)
NIEA heads to Capitol Hill to advocate for Native language bills (7/28)
Charles Roessel: BIE reform plan includes teacher certification (7/28)
Troy Eid: Marijuana experiment in Colorado hurts Indian youth (7/28)
BIA hosts scoping meeting on Paiute Tribe land-into-trust bid (7/28)
Grand Ronde Tribes disenroll 86 descendants of treaty signer (7/28)
Protest targets disenrollments within Saginaw Chippewa Tribe (7/28)
At least 10 tribes adopt laws to recognize same-sex mariages (7/28)
Law Article: Supreme Court sends reminder on tribal immunity (7/28)
Unsettled: Passamaquoddy Tribe awaits constitutional reform (7/28)
KGOU: Indian Times review of news affecting Oklahoma tribes (7/28)
Judge hears dispute over United Keetoowah Band gaming site (7/28)
Chumash Tribe plans hotel tower with $160M casino expansion (7/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe changes architects for casino plan (7/28)
Soo Tribe casino partner was developer behind failed racetrack (7/28)
Editorial: State must negotiate compact with Pojoaque Pueblo (7/28)
Native Sun News: IHS hospital at Pine Ridge undergoes review (7/25)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Group disturbs tranquility at Bear Butte (7/25)
Indian Health Service discloses privacy breach of patient data (7/25)
BIA extends comment period on federal recognition regulation (7/25)
Navajo Nation president calling for FBI probe of brutal murders (7/25)
Jennie Stockle: Justice for victims of Cedarville mass shooting (7/25)
John Christian Hopkins: Waiting for Belgian waffles at Denny's (7/25)
Steven Pevar: Indian chldren are being taken from their homes (7/25)
IHS pays $53M to settle another contract support cost dispute (7/25)
Shinnecock Nation asserts control over tobacco amid pressure (7/25)
Four sentenced for stealing HHS funds from Oglala Sioux Tribe (7/25)
Unsettled: BIA questions Passamaquoddy forest management (7/25)
ASU News: First graduates of Indian studies master's program (7/25)
Blog: Tanka Fund aims to grow Indian Country's bison economy (7/25)
Opinion: A troubling relationship with Native peoples in Canada (7/25)
Opinion: Auction of tribal property in France sets bad precedent (7/25)
Puyallup Tribe cancels upcoming Ted Nugent concerts at casino (7/25)
Mayor gives conflicting view on Tohono O'odham Nation casino (7/25)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe plans to start work at gaming site (7/25)
Pojoaque Pueblo defends provisions in proposed gaming deal (7/25)
Iipay Nation puts Internet gaming servers on Mohawk reserve (7/25)
Native Sun News: Cobell beneficiaries still waiting on payment (7/24)
Navajo Nation president to discuss brutal murders with mayor (7/24)
NCAI President Cladoosby offers cedar hat to BIA's Washburn (7/24)
Woman waiting in line at SCIA hearing reportedly had bedbugs (7/24)
S.E. Ruckman: Tribal members share frustrations on IHS care (7/24)
Mark Rogers: System exploits misery of our nation's veterans (7/24)
Fort Belknap Tribes depend on revenue from Internet lending (7/24)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.