Mark Trahant: New Republican 'interest' in IHCIA

"There’s a new interest in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. House Democrats are now including the act as an amendment to the larger health care reform proposal. But Republican leaders are crying foul.

Doc Hastings, the Ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, sent a letter to Chairman Nick Rahall objecting to the process. “There is bipartisan agreement on the need to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, and that’s why it is so deeply troubling that the Democrat Majority’s promises of transparency and openness have been violated in this manner,” Hastings notes. “I’ve no doubt that the advocates of reauthorization are encouraged by action, for there is finally movement on legislation that Speaker Pelosi has refused to allow on to the House floor for a vote for over two and half years. Yet, the satisfaction that may be felt today, could very well turn into real disappointment in the very near future. Tying reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to the controversial government takeover of the nation’s health care does a serious disservice to Tribes and individual Indians and Alaska Natives across the country. Reauthorization should be permitted to move independently and not be tied to such a costly and controversial measure.”

Where were these voices when the Indian Health Care Improvement Act was languishing for a decade? Especially when the Republicans controlled Congress and the White House? More important: The folks who are now warning about a government take over in health care were saying the same thing with the expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program – a source of revenue that was a significant and direct benefit to the Indian health care system."

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