Indianz.Com > COVID-19 > House Committee on Energy and Commerce Markup: Tribal Health Data Improvement Act
Posted: September 9, 2020

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will meet in open markup session on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

One bill of significance for Indian Country is on the agenda:

  • H.R. 7948, the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act of 2020

The Tribal Health Data Improvement Act was introduced on August 7. The bipartisan bill ensures that tribal authorities have access to the same public health data as states and local governments, an issue that has arisen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Native American Tribes face structural challenges accessing federal public health data that state and local governments can access—data they are entitled to by law. This needs to change. Our bipartisan bill tears down this information barrier so Tribal communities can utilize federal data to help guide their public health decision-making, something that is critically important during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that Native Americans are being impacted by this pandemic disproportionately. As we continue our work to reduce disparities in health outcomes, access to public health data will help close the gap,” sponsor Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Montana) and co-sponsors Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washhington), Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma),  Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Arizona) and Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-California) said on August 7.

National Indian Health Board CEO, Stacy A. Bohlen, expressed support for the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act.

“The National Indian Health Board strongly supports the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act. Tribal Nations, as sovereign governments, are inherent public health authorities providing vital public health programs and services to their citizens and communities. By statute, Tribal Epidemiology Centers (TECs) are also public health authorities, and play a critical role in assisting Tribal governments and Tribal organizations in public health activities. Yet for years, both Tribes and TECs have faced immense challenges in accessing federal and state health data systems necessary to engage in foundational public health work. NIHB applauds Representatives Gianforte and Luján for leading the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act. This bill will help ensure Tribes and TECs have direct access to federal healthcare and public health surveillance systems, and require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to work directly with Tribes to address widespread misclassification and undersampling of American Indians and Alaska Natives on birth and death records, and in public health surveillance systems,” said Bohlen.

House Committee on Energy and Commerce Notice

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