WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today the Senate unanimously passed H.R. 623, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land Transfer Act. The bill directs the Indian Health Service to transfer a 2.79 acre parcel of federal land located in Anchorage to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC).
The bill now heads to the President, and will allow ANTHC to strengthen critical healthcare delivery for Alaska Natives by constructing a patient housing facility on the parcel. The patient housing facility will expand the Consortium’s ability to offer health services to patients, particularly for those who live in rural areas and villages that are unconnected to the road system. ANTHC plans for a 170-room housing facility which will adjoin the Alaska Native Medical Center and provide a temporary living space for Alaska Native patients traveling from rural communities to receive health services in Anchorage. The facility will also allow families to stay closer to their loved ones during difficult times.
Congressman Don Young championed the bill in the House of Representatives, securing final passage in the House on October 29, 2013. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich introduced companion legislation in the Senate, and worked to move the House passed bill through the Senate.
“Many Alaskans living in rural communities travel long distances to receive medical care in Anchorage, but are unable to house themselves during their stay,” Congressman Don Young said. “This land transfer will allow ANTHC to expand patient housing, maximize care by locating patients near the Medical Center and its resources, and save millions of dollars in transportation and housing costs. It’s a common sense solution that empowers ANTHC to uphold the federal trust responsibility that the Consortium currently fulfills on behalf of the IHS. I am pleased that the Senate unanimously approved this legislation and appreciate the hard work of both Senators in securing final passage of this bill.”
“The construction of a patient housing facility will allow ANTHC to create a ‘home away from home’ during critical times for Alaska Native families who must remain in Anchorage for loved ones to receive health care services.” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “I continue to be proud of our Native health leaders and their innovation to expand services with limited resources to achieve ANTHC’s mission that Alaska Native people are the healthiest in the world.”
“The Alaska Tribal Health Consortium provides excellent oversight for the Alaska Native Medical Center--one of the finest medical facilities in the Indian healthcare system," said Senator Mark Begich. "The passage of this bill will enable ANTHC to improve the access to much needed health services for Alaska Natives and Native Americans in Alaska. The new Patient Housing Facility will save ANTHC over $2 million in housing costs per year which can be used towards improving and expanding their health services.”
ANTHC, a non-profit corporation headquartered in Anchorage, provides tribal healthcare services to thousands of patients in the region. Following final passage of H.R. 632, ANTHC Chairman and President Andy Teuber released the following statement:
“My sincerest gratitude to our Congressional delegation for their efforts in getting this important piece of legislation passed. They have each demonstrated their commitment to improving the health and well-being of Alaska Native People. The passage of H.R. 623 will facilitate the construction of our patient housing facility and thereby diminish barriers to access to healthcare services at the Alaska Native Medical Center for Alaska's Native People living in rural and remote parts of the State. Thank you, Congressman Young and Senators Murkowski and Begich.”