President Bush’s Proposed Budget Would Eliminate Funding for Some American Indian Health Programs
President Bush's proposed fiscal year 2008 budget calls for eliminating the $33 million Urban Indian Health Program, a system of 34 health clinics around the country, and supporters "are gearing up for a fight to save it," the Great Falls Tribune reports. The program provides low-cost health services to American Indians living in urban areas. Last year, both the House and Senate rejected a similar proposal (Bremner, Great Falls Tribune, 2/7). The budget also proposes a $25 million funding reduction for Indian Health Facilities, which supports construction and improvements to American Indian health services. The budget proposes to allocate $3.991 billion overall for HHS' Indian Health Service, an increase of approximately $237 million more than 2007 (Native American Times, 2/7). Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) in a statement said he will fight the proposed cuts. Montana has five American Indian health clinics. "There are basic needs that are not being met, such as clean drinking water and quality affordable health care, and that's not right," Baucus said, adding, "We need to be investing in Native American programs." Bill Martin, acting director of the Indian Family Health Clinic, said he thinks Congress will continue to support American Indian health programs but is concerned because of the amount of funding needed for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Tribune reports (Great Falls Tribune, 2/7).
"If our outrage toward President Bush's budget proposal were a cupcake," the proposed elimination of funding for the IHS' Urban Indian Health Program "would be the thick layer of fury icing," a Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial states. According to the editorial, the clinics, which provide services to roughly 100,000 American Indian's nationwide, "are a cost-effective way of treating a population that might all too often end up in expensive emergency rooms" (Seattle Post- Intelligencer, 2/8).