Increase Indian Health Service Funds to Screen and Treat Hepatitis C

Abstract: Referred to the NCAI Budget Task Force.

TITLE: Increase Indian Health Service Funds to Screen and Treat Hepatitis C

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 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 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, Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a chronic infection and a deadly disease that left untreated destroys the liver; and

WHEREAS, most recent national data show American Indian/Alaska Native people with both the highest rate of acute HCV infection and the highest HCV-related mortality rate of any U.S. racial/ethnic group; and

WHEREAS, new medications can reliably cure HCV with few adverse effects; and

WHEREAS, new drug regimens have made early detection and treatment of HCV critical; and

WHEREAS, curing a patient of HCV greatly reduces the risk of liver cancer and liver failure; and

WHEREAS, HCV drugs aren’t on the IHS formulary, so clinicians must spend considerable time mounting often unsuccessful attempts to get third-party payers such as private insurers, Medicaid, and patient-assistance programs for reimbursement; and

WHEREAS, the Veterans Affairs received additional resources for Hepatitis C and consequently implemented a program supported by funding and resources, resulting in VA clinicians being able to provide treatment for all their patients with HCV, whereas IHS clinicians cannot; and

WHEREAS, American Indian nations deserve the same quality of care and the same level of resources as the VA, particularly since the IHS serves the population with the highest HCV-related mortality and highest incidence of acute HCV in the country.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that IHS, the Administration, and Congress work together to provide supplemental funding to add new HCV medications to its IHS’ National Core Formulary; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.