June 9, 2009

Senate Indian Affairs Committee to Hold Hearing on Reforming Indian Health Care System

Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) announced Tuesday the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will conduct a hearing on reforming the Indian health care system. The hearing will take place at 2:15 PM, Thursday, June 11, in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
The hearing will identify areas of needed reform in the Indian health care system and explore ideas and suggestions for bringing about those reforms.
Witnesses will include representatives from the National Congress of American Indians, National Indian Health Board, National Council on Urban Indian Health, and the Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee. Also testifying will be Dr. Paul K. Carlton, a facilities expert, from the Health Science Center at Texas A&M University. They will address specific areas for reform, such as the Contract Health Service system and health care facilities construction programs, among other topics. Proposed reforms which will be examined at the hearing go well beyond initiatives already included in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.
The hearing is scheduled to take place as the Senate begins consideration of broader health care reform for all Americans. It will explore opportunities for advancing Indian health care improvements both within that broader reform effort and through legislation targeted specifically to the Indian health care system.
The cornerstone of the Indian health care system is the Indian Health Service (IHS), which Dorgan has frequently described as a “dysfunctional” agency. IHS is responsible for fulfilling the federal government’s trust responsibility to provide health care for the members of 562 federally recognized tribes throughout the United States. About 1.9 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives who live on or near Indian reservations are eligible for health care through IHS.
Details follow:
WHO: Senators: U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Senator Byron Dorgan, Chairman; Vice Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY); and other members of the committee.
WITNESSES: Jefferson Keel, Vice President, National Congress of American Indians; Buford L.Rolin, Vice Chairman and Nashville Area Representative, National Indian Health Board; Geoffrey Roth, Executive Director, National Council on Urban Indian Health; Valerie Davidson, Member, Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee; Dr. Paul K.Carlton, Jr. Director of Homeland Security, Texas A&M University Health Science Center.
WHAT: Hearing to identify needed reforms of the Indian health care system and to explore ideas and proposals for making such reforms.
WHEN: 2:15 PM, Thursday, June 11, 2009
WHERE: 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
WHY: To begin advancing Indian health care reform legislation in the 111th Congress by identifying areas of needed reform in the Indian health care system and exploring reform ideas and proposals.