Indian Health Services Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Proposal Excludes Important Funding, Senator Says in Opinion Piece
"Unfortunately, the detailed budget request" President Obama submitted last week "contained no money at all for" the "critical" Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) writes in a Native American Times opinion piece. "This fund is authorized to spend up to $2 billion over five years on critical public safety, health care and water resource development needs in Indian Country," he writes, adding that it "can be a powerful tool to meet the challenges" that the American Indian/Alaska Native communities face but that "Congress must take action to ensure that the money is there" (Thune, Native American Times, 5/12).
In his proposed budget for fiscal year 2010, Obama allocated $4.03 billion to Indian Health Service, an about 13% increase in funding over 2009. The proposal includes:
- $167 million for increased costs associated with pay raises, population growth, inflation, and staffing and operating costs for new and expanded facilities;
- $117 million for contract health services not provided through IHS, in which a portion would be set aside for catastrophic or high-cost cases;
- $104.4 million for contract support costs to assist tribes with administrative costs for managing certain health programs; and
- $16.3 million to expand IHS' Health Information Technology system (IHS release, 5/7).
"Despite President Obama's failure to include [the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health] funding in his budget, Congress will have an opportunity to appropriate money into the fund, and I will work with my colleagues to see that it is at least partially funded as part of the fiscal year 2010 appropriation bill," Thune writes. The exclusion "is a setback, but there is still an opportunity to ensure that the most critical needs in Indian Country are addressed," Thune concludes (Native American Times, 5/12). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.