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Improving Health Care for Native Americans

UPDATE 2/26/2008: The IHCIA passed the Senate today 83-10. Thank you for your help.

UPDATE 2/25/08: Vote expected very soon -- see our call to action here.

UPDATE 1/29/08: The Senate debated the Indian Health Care Act (IHCIA) on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, but moved on to other business before a vote on the bill occurred. Things are still in flux, but we are optimistic that the bill will be taken up again in the Senate soon.

"Indigenous people are suffering and we are your neighbors. We live and love every bit of this country but have been historically neglected by our "caregivers" on the local, state and especially federal levels. We need our elected officials to advocate for us and to ensure Indigenous people the resources we need to thrive. The time for justice in our healthcare crisis is now" –Janine Tinsley-Roe, National Missioner, Office of Native American Ministries, Episcopal Church Center

Native American infant mortality is 150% greater for Indians than for Caucasian infants. Indigenous people are 650% more likely to die from tuberculosis and 318% more likely to die from diabetes compared with other groups.

These tragic statistics should embarrass our Federal Government who promised Native Americans health care in exchange for 400 million acres of land treaties.

Since its enactment in 1976, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act has funded programs to address the health care needs of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives. However, huge disparities remain, and many of the innovations in health care delivery that most Americans have experienced in recent years have not reached Indian Country.

The Episcopal Church has long supported Native Communities and their right to access adequate health care: "[T]he 69th General Convention of the Episcopal Church strongly support the Indian Health Care Improvement Act" (GC 1988-C007).

Next week, the Senate will consider legislation to improve access, retain qualified Indian health care professionals, focus on alcohol/substance abuse, improve services and mental health care for Indians and give more decision making authority to tribal governments to better serve Indian populations.

CLICK HERE to contact your Senators today! Urge them to support bipartisan legislation, S. 1200, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments of 2007, when it comes to the Senate Floor. This legislation will help bring Native American health care into the 21st Century by addressing current health care disparities.

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