Senate Approves Legislation That Would Reauthorize, Overhaul Indian Health Care Improvement Act
The Senate on Tuesday voted 83-10 to approve the Indian Health Care Improvement Act reauthorization bill (S 1200), CQ Today reports (Armstrong, CQ Today, 2/26). The bill would authorize $35 billion over the next decade for the Indian Health Service to expand health coverage and services for about 1.8 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (Holland, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/26).
The bill would:
- Increase the number of American Indians in health care professions;
- Increase funding for cancer and diabetes screenings, mental health and prevention programs;
- Prompt construction and modernization of health clinics on reservations; and
- Expand tribal access to Medicare and Medicaid (Jalonick, AP/Denver Post, 2/26).
The Senate on Tuesday also voted 56-38 to approve an amendment by Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) that would create a pool of money for health facility construction to be distributed among all tribes, rather than targeting specific tribes. According to Smith, some tribes have never received funding to build health care facilities.
House companion legislation remains in committee, but Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said he likely would not make major changes to the Senate measure (CQ Today, 2/26). Pallone said he expects the bill "will move fairly quickly" through the House (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/26). This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.