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Representatives Young and McCollum Lead Legislation to Provide Stable Federal Health Care Funding that Supports Trust Obligations to Tribal Nations

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-MN) have introduced a pair of bipartisan bills in the House to authorize advance appropriations for essential tribal services funded by the federal government. Providing federal funds for these programs a full year in advance ensures that the nation can better meet its commitment to uphold trust and treaty responsibilities throughout Indian Country.

The Indian Health Service (IHS) and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) fund critical public services within tribal nations, including hospitals, schools, law enforcement, child welfare programs, and more. Government shutdowns in recent years seriously affected IHS and BIA, putting the health and safety of tribal communities at risk. During 2019’s shutdown, Native Americans were disproportionately harmed by the lapse of appropriations because of the breadth of services that experienced a lapse in funding. If advance appropriations were enacted for BIA and IHS, they would provide tribal nations with a stable budget to fulfill the federal trust obligations within those agencies. 

The two bipartisan bills introduced ensure advance funding is in place to reduce the significant harm and hardship any future shutdown would cause for Native communities. Congresswoman McCollum’s Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act (IPAAA) authorizes advance appropriations for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, including the Bureau of Indian Education and the Indian Health Service. Congressman Young’s Indian Health Service Advance Appropriations Act provides advance appropriations authority for the Indian Health Service. Both bills include advance funding for contract support costs to provide certainty for tribal nations who operate IHS or BIA programs under self-governance contracts and compacts.

“Alaska Native and American Indian communities have historically been shortchanged when it comes to receiving high-quality health care to meet their unique needs. The COVID-19 pandemic hit Native Americans especially hard, which makes providing certainty for health care funding even more important” said Congressman Don Young. “The goal of these bills is simple: enable Congress to appropriate funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) one fiscal year in advance.  Advance appropriations have already proven to be successful at the VA. Chronic appropriations delays, piecemeal funding bills, and government shutdowns have hampered the ability of IHS, BIA, and BIE to deliver the health care and services our first peoples rely on. In the past few weeks, talk of a potential government shutdown once again caused unnecessary anxiety for Native communities across our country; very frankly, this is wrong. It is up to Congress to uphold the federal trust relationship with Native populations across the country, and I encourage my friends on both sides of the aisle to cosponsor this important legislation. I appreciate the efforts of my fellow members of the Native American Caucus in support of these bills.”

“The federal government’s inability to pass annual appropriations on time is a serious threat to the well-being of Native American communities,” said Congresswoman Betty McCollum. “I am happy to join my colleague Representative Young in ensuring that federal funding for critical health services throughout Indian Country will not be interrupted by another shutdown. Advance appropriations is a necessary step for making good on our federal trust and treaty commitments to our Native American brothers and sisters.”

“The Alaska Native Health Board strongly supports Congressman Young’s legislation to fund the Indian Health Service on an advance appropriations basis. This will provide critically needed planning and budgeting stability for the Alaska Tribal Health System, while meeting the federal trust responsibility. IHS advance appropriations will insulate Alaska Tribal health programs from the adverse effects of continuing resolutions and government shutdowns that put the health and safety of Alaska Native communities at risk. Advance appropriations for the IHS has been a longstanding priority and ANHB thanks Congressman Young for his work on this important legislation,” said the Honorable Andrew Jimmie, Chairman of the Alaska Native Health Board.

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