Senate Committee Passes Bill To Promote Health Careers Among American Indians
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Thursday approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) that aims to encourage American Indians to pursue careers in health care, the AP/Billings Gazette reports. The bill would provide federal grants to create nursing and other health care education programs at tribal colleges and increase staff at American Indian health clinics. According to the AP/Gazette, American Indians have higher death rates than the rest of the nation for most leading causes of death, and rates of substance abuse, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and suicide are particularly high (AP/Billings Gazette, 4/24).
The bill -- the Through Higher Education, Promoting the Advancement of Tribal Health Act -- would also allow tribal colleges to launch community outreach programs focused on disease management, substance abuse and other issues. Tester said in a release, "By training more [American Indian] students to enter the health care field, we provide their communities with good jobs, educated and self-sufficient members," adding, "And at the same time, we also improve the quality and access to culturally appropriate health care" (Tester release, 4/24).