WASHINGTON DC –
U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced legislation this week that would ramp up federal efforts to prevent and treat diabetes among American Indians and Native Alaskans. Joining Dorgan as lead co-sponsor are Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
The legislation, S. 3058, targets one of the leading health problems among American Indians and Native Alaskans. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, 17 percent of all American Indians and Native Alaskans have diabetes – nearly one in five – the highest rate of any racial or ethnic group in America.
The bill reauthorizes the Special Diabetes Program, which funds both prevention and treatment research for Type I diabetes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a special prevention and treatment program for American Indians and Native Alaskans through the Indian Health Service (IHS). Each of those two programs is currently funded at $150 million annually. The new legislation would increase funding for each program by one third — to $200 million annually — for each of the next five years.
“It is essential that these programs continue,” Dorgan said, “and that we strengthen them to build on the progress they are making against this disease. It is also vital that we give special attention to prevention and treatment efforts for American Indians and Native Alaskans who suffer from diabetes at rates far above that of any other populations. Our bill ensures that we continue to build on past progress, puts special focus where it is needed most, and ramps up the effort across the board.”