IHCIA finally passes as part of national health reform bill
After a decade-long delay, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act is finally becoming law as part of the national health reform bill that passed the House on Sunday.

The IHCIA was first passed in 1976 but it hasn't been updated since 2000. Tribal leaders fought for years for a reauthorization against resistance from the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans.

The political climate changed when the IHCIA was included in the national health reform bill that cleared the Senate in December. The House took up that same version yesterday and passed H.R.3590 by a 219 to 212 vote.

Once President Barack Obama signs the bill, the IHCIA will be permanent and won't need reauthorization in the future. The IHCIA gives tribes more flexibility to administer health care funds and authorizes new programs at the Indian Health Service for long-term care, youth suicide prevention and mental health treatment, among other provisions.

Additionally, the health reform bill itself contains pro-tribal provisions. It exempts tribal and IHS benefits from being taxed by the Internal Revenue Service, an issue that was affecting tribes nationwide.

The bill also exempts American Indians and Alaska Natives who receive care through IHS, tribal or urban Indian providers from the mandatory health insurance requirement.

Get the Story:
Health care reform to become law (Indian Country Today 3/22)
House passes health-care reform bill without Republican votes (The Washington Post 3/22)
Obama Hails Vote on Health Care as Answering ‘the Call of History’ (The New York Times 3/22)

Indian Health Care Improvement Act:
S.1790 | H.R.2708

Related Stories:
Dorgan cites 'major breakthrough' on Indian health (12/21)
Indian Health Care Improvement Act clears hurdle (12/04)
Opinion: Abortion debate poisons Indian health bill (12/04)
Indian Country waits for long-overdue health reform (12/2)
Full witness list for Senate hearing on Indian health (12/2)
Witness list for Senate hearing on Indian health issues (12/1)
Senate Indian Affairs meeting, hearing on Thursday (11/30)
Senate moves forward with health reform debate (11/23)
Senate Indian Affairs action on IHCIA postponed (11/19)
IHCIA passes House as part of health reform bill (11/9)
Rosebud President: Take action for Indian health (11/3)
Rep. Hastings objects to IHCIA in health reform bill (10/30)
House panel holds hearing on Indian health care (10/21)
Dorgan renews push for Indian health care bill (10/19)
Dorgan introduces updated version of health bill (10/15)
Dorgan readies 'streamlined' version of IHCIA (10/13)
Health reform bill includes tribal tax exemption (9/22)