Indian Country waits for long-overdue health reform
After a decade of waiting, Congress appears close to passing the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and including American Indians and Alaska Natives in the national health reform bill.

Tribes have been pushing to reauthorize the IHCIA since 1999 but ran into objections from the Bush administration and Republicans. With Democrats in control of Congress and the White House, the bill could finally become law during the 111th Congress.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey) told The New York Times "it’s definitely going to be easier to get Indian provisions in the health care bills" due to the change in the political climate.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee will take up S.1790, the Indian Health Care Improvement Reauthorization and Extension Act , at a business meeting tomorrow. The House passed IHCIA as part of H.R.3692, the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

Separately, Congress increased the Indian Health Service budget and directed $500 million in stimulus funds to the agency. President Barack Obama has proposed a 13 percent increase for next year's budget.

Get the Story:
American Indians Stand to Gain in Health Overhaul (The New York Times 12/2)

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