The National Congress of American Indians
TITLE: Advance Appropriations for the Indian Health Service
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and
WHEREAS, the Federal government of the United States has a unique and special relationship with American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) to provide health care as established through the U.S. Constitution Treaties with Indian Tribes, U.S. Supreme Court decisions and Federal legislation; and
WHEREAS, although the trust relationship requires the Federal government to provide for the health and welfare of Tribal nations, the Indian Health Service (IHS) remains chronically underfunded at only 56 percent of need, and American Indians and Alaska Natives suffer from among the lowest health status nationally; and
WHEREAS, the Indian Health Service, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, administers health care to 2.2 million AI/ANs residing in Tribal communities in 35 states, directly, or through contracts or compacts with Tribes and Tribal organizations under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act; and
WHEREAS, in recent years, Federal appropriation bills have not been enacted in a timely manner, thus hampering Tribal and IHS health care providers’ budgeting, recruitment, retention, provision of services, facility maintenance, and construction efforts; and
WHEREAS, since Fiscal Year 1998, there has only been one year (FY2006) in which the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill has been enacted before the beginning of the new fiscal year; and
WHEREAS, the budgetary solution to this failure to uphold the Federal trust responsibility, and the one which does not require the Congressional appropriations committees to count Advanced Appropriations against their spending cap is Advanced Appropriations; and
WHEREAS, the NCAI believes that moving to the Advanced Appropriations process protect the Tribes and the IHS direct service units from cash flow problems that regularly occur at the start of the Federal fiscal year due to delays in enactment of annual appropriations legislation; and
WHEREAS, Congress has recognized the difficulties inherent in the provision of direct health care that relies on the appropriations process and traditional funding cycle through enactment of the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009 (PL 111-81), which authorized Advanced Appropriations for Veterans Administration (VA) medical care programs; and
WHEREAS, the IHS should be afforded the same budgetary certainty and protections extended to the VA which is also a federally-funded provider of direct health care.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NCAI requests that Congress amend the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to authorize Advanced Appropriations; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI requests that Congress include our recommendation for IHS Advanced Appropriations in the Budget Resolution; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the NCAI requests that Congress include in the enacted appropriations bill IHS Advanced Appropriations; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2014 Mid-Year Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Dena'ina Civic & Convention Center, June 8-11, 2014 in Anchorage, Alaska, with a quorum present.