New Mexico Governor Urges Lawmakers To Reauthorize American Indian Health Care Improvement Act
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) on Tuesday in a letter to the state's congressional delegation urged lawmakers to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the AP/Santa Fe New Mexican reports. Congress has reauthorized the act four times since 1976, when it was first enacted, but has not advanced it in the past six years, according to the AP/New Mexican. In addition, Richardson said the cuts to American Indian health care proposed by President Bush would have a "devastating effect" on New Mexico's American Indian population (AP/Santa Fe New Mexican, 2/21). 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. 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. The budget also proposes a $25 million funding reduction for Indian Health Facilities, which supports construction and improvements to American Indian health services (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 2/8). Richardson said, "In several meetings held over the last year and a half with New Mexico's 22 federally recognized Indian pueblos, tribes and nations, one issue came across loud and clear: We must improve Native American health care." Richardson noted in the letter that state health and human service agencies are working to improve outreach efforts and complement federal programs but that those efforts do not absolve the federal government from its responsibilities to American Indians (AP/Santa Fe New Mexican, 2/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.