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Coalition Letter to Senate: Support IHCIA
1/22/2008
Dear Senator,

We, the representatives of diverse religious faiths and beliefs, write in support of the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), S. 1200.  We believe that honoring federal trust obligations is a moral issue.  Floor debate has been scheduled for this afternoon. We seek your support for S. 1200, cloture, and a “clean bill” without amendments. 
 
In-home health care for the elderly, mental health treatment for youth at risk of suicide, chronic disease assistance for diabetes patients, and prevention and wellness activities are among the programs that can be provided or expanded if IHCIA is reauthorized.  S. 1200 will also assist with recruitment and retention of health professionals.

IHCIA was passed in 1976 and signed by President Ford with the stated purpose of improving services and facilities to bring the health
status of urban and rural Indian people up to par with the rest of society.  The Act spurred progress in sanitation and curtailment of acute illnesses.  Against great odds, tribes have had many successes. However, unmet health needs remain alarmingly severe and the life span of American Indians and Native Alaskans continues to be years shorter than the general population. 

Progress has been made toward parity, but since the Act has not been reauthorized for 15 years, the health status of Native people continues to be worse than for the general public.  This disparity is partly due to  
deplorable health conditions, lack of access to medical care, and an out-dated health care delivery system. 

The federal Indian Health Services (IHS) serves more than 1.8 million people.  Its mission is to raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of Native Americans through comprehensive, culturally acceptable personal and public health services.  In reality IHS struggles to make basic and specialized medical care available and accessible to the service population.  Reauthorization of IHCIA would permit IHS and tribes to make more efficient and humanitarian use of limited funds.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.    


Sincerely,

American Friends Service Committee
Brethren Witness/Washington Office
Church Women United
The Episcopal Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Friends Committee on National Legislation
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of Jewish Women
Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Presbyterian Church (USA) Washington Office
Sojourners
Union for Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Commission on Religion and Race
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations


 



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