Indian Health Service extends comment period on emergency fund

The new Cherokee Indian Hospital in Cherokee, North Carolina. Photo from Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority / Facebook

The Indian Health Service continues to accept comments on a proposed regulation for the Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund.

The fund is designed to meet the medical costs associated with the treatment of victims of disasters or catastrophic illnesses. The regulation explains how the IHS will operate the program and how it will seek reimbursement for any costs.

"The CHEF program can be a crucial tool in recouping allocated resources and reimbursement for high cost Purchased/Referred Care cases. Funds placed back into the health operating budget enable more Purchased/Referred Care services to be offered by a Service Unit," Robert G. McSwain, a senior IHS official, said in a press release in January, when the regulation was first proposed. "The proposed regulation will strengthen that process."

The comment period would have ended today but it's been extended to May 10. Comments can be submitted through or through the mail.

The fiscal year 2017 budget request for the IHS includes $53 million for the Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund, according to a justification document. In written testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, Mary Smith, the acting director of the agency, said that represents a $3 million increase.

The Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund falls under the Purchased/Referred Care program, whose request totals $962.3 million. The program pays for primary and specialty health care services not available at IHS or tribally-managed facilities and the money often ran out in June of each fiscal year. Due to budget increases, officials have said the money usually lasts through August.

Federal Register Notices:
Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund (March 11, 2016)
Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund (January 26, 2016)

FY2017 Indian Health Service Budget Documents:
Budget Request | Budget Justification | HHS Budget In Brief

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Indian Health Service vows to save certification for troubled facility (3/9)
Indian Health Service vows to save certification for troubled facility (3/9)
New leader of Indian Health Service testifies about budget request (3/8)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to hold hearing on tribal budget (03/07)
IHS facility on Rosebud Sioux Reservation loses key certification (03/03)
Cherokee Nation citizen Mary Smith to helm Indian Health Service (03/01)
Editorial: Quality of Indian Health Service is a scandal in Montana (02/29)
Mike Myers: Exposing problems at the Indian Homicide Service (02/25)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe frustrated by treatment from HHS agencies (02/17)
Another IHS hospital threatened with loss of Medicare funding (02/16)
Brandon Ecoffey: Treaties guaranteed health care for our people (02/11)
President Obama seeks another increase for Indian Health Service budget (02/10)
Six of 12 Indian Health Service area directors in 'acting' capacity (02/10)
Kristi Noem: Indian Health Service remains in a state of emergency (02/10)
Tribal leaders question management changes at IHS in Great Plains (02/04)
IHS chief medical officer apologizes for comments about newborns (02/04)
Indian Health Service makes changes ahead of big SCIA hearing (2/3)
Witness list for Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing into IHS (2/1)
Inspections of IHS facilities in Great Plains turn up big problems (1/28)
Senate committee reschedules IHS hearing and listening session (01/25)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee expands look at substandard IHS (1/22)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee to look at 'substandard' care at IHS in Great Plains (01/12)
Mary Annette Pember: Native women affected by cutbacks at IHS (12/29)
Lakota Country Times: IHS restricts care at Rosebud hospital (12/24)
Nebraska tribes recognized for efforts to hold IHS accountable (09/24)
Tribes in Nebraska demand resignations of senior IHS officials (08/12)
Winnebago Tribe upset with IHS over loss of funds at hospital (8/6)
Winnebago Tribe looking to address deficiencies at IHS hospital (08/05)
Winnebago Tribe hopes to prevent Medicare cutoff at hospital (5/28)