This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD) announced several grants and loan funding for rural Alaska communities and organizations to address rural sanitation issues. ANTHC is among the grantees, as well as many of our Tribal health partners, which total $27 million in USDA-RD Water and Environmental Programs funding.
The funding ANTHC received will support sanitation projects in Adak, Akiak, Chignik, Eek, Golovin, Hydaburg, Kasaan, Kiana, Kivalina, New Stuyahok, Oscarville, Port Graham, Saxman, Teller, Toksook Bay and Twin Hills. Funding will also be used for technical assistance and training for communities across the state. Projects include planning and assessment for first time water service, necessary water service upgrades and energy efficiency upgrades.
The USDA-RD funding recognizes the incredible impact that access to water and sewer facilities can have on the health of our communities and the health of our people. ANTHC’s Environmental Health and Engineering staff have worked with numerous communities and Tribal partners to find solutions that bring these basic sanitation services that reduce the incidence of respiratory and skin conditions in children.
For more information, see the USDA-RD press release: USDA Awards $27 Million in Water and Environmental Program Funding to Alaska.
U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and former vice chair and current member Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), participated in a robust roundtable discussion focusing on health care issues facing Alaskans and Alaska Natives. The roundtable took place on Friday, August 12th at the Gorsuch Building at the University of Alaska in Anchorage, AK.
The roundtable featured experts from across the state that provided their input and experience on the issues. The participants included:
· Lori Wing-Heier, director of the Alaska Division of Insurance;
· Valerie Davidson, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services;
· Leonard Sorrin, vice president at Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield;
· Dr. Lisa Parady, executive director of the Alaska Superintendents Association;
· Dr. Deena Paramo, superintendent of the Anchorage School District;
· Becky Hultberg, president and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association;
· Roald Helgesen, CEO of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and hospital administrator;
· Dr. Robert Onders, medical director for the Community Health System Improvement;
· Katherine Gottlieb, president and CEO of the SouthCentral Foundation;
· April Kyle, vice president of behavioral health for the SouthCentral Foundation;
· Jennifer Meyhoff, chair of Legislative Affairs Committee for the Alaska Association of Health Underwriters; and
· Jeff Ranf, former president and current board member for the Alaska Association of Health Underwriters.
The discussion focused on the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, rural and telehealth, the Indian Health Service, and specific issues facing Alaska Natives.
Patients will benefit from increased access to health care workers and paraprofessionals
The Community Health Aide Program Certification Board, a federally authorized organization managed by the U.S. government’s Alaska Area Native Health Service in partnership with tribal health organization representatives, certified 171 behavioral health, dental health and community health aides and practitioners during a recent meeting. Of these, 28 were certified for the first time, while 143 were certified at a higher lever or renewed their certification.
“Community health aides are proven partners in health and I am very happy to congratulate the newly certified health aides on their hard work to gain the skills necessary for this achievement,” said Mary L. Smith, IHS principal deputy director. “This program to bring more health workers to Alaska Native communities has proven to be very successful. We are currently consulting with tribal leaders about the possibility of increasing the use of community health aides as part of IHS’s ongoing commitment to provide access to quality health care to Alaska Native and American Indian patients.”
“Community health aides are the back bone of care in remote Alaska and are selected by their communities to receive training,” said Andrew McLaughlin, Community Health Aide Program certification board chair. “The CHAP program is proof that under geographical constraints, the Indian Health Service and tribal programs together accomplish and deliver a higher standard of medical care to underserved and remote populations.”
Community health aides include workers in health education, communicable disease control, maternal and child health, dental health, family planning, environmental health and other fields. There are currently 489 certified health aides or practitioners in Alaska, all of them certified by the Alaska Area Native Health Service. Many community health aides filling jobs in the Native health system come from the local communities and immediate surrounding areas where job opportunities can be limited.
The Community Health Aide Program Certification Board was created in 1998 by the federal government and charged with formalizing the process for maintaining community health aides/practitioners, dental health aides and behavioral health aides/practitioners training and practice standards and policies. As the governing board of the community health aide, dental health aide and behavioral health aide programs, its function is to certify training centers and individual health aides at all levels of training. Members represent the Indian Health Service, state of Alaska, community health aide training centers, community health aide program directors and community health aides.
Examples of health aides across the national Indian health system include:
- A Dental Health Aide Program operated by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium is a community-driven program providing culturally appropriate dental education and routine dental services in 81 Alaska Native communities serving over 40,000 Alaska Native people since 2004: http://anthc.org/dental-health-aide.
- The principal provider of health services at the village level in Alaska is the community health aide/practitioner. Chosen by the village council, the community health aide/practitioner is responsible for giving first aid in emergencies, examining the ill, reporting their symptoms to a physician, carrying out the recommended treatment, instructing the family in giving nursing care and conducting preventive health programs in the villages. Community health aides also store and dispense prescription drugs with physician instructions:http://www.ihs.gov/alaska/includes/themes/newihstheme/display_objects/documents/hf/area.pdf.
- A behavioral health aide is a counselor, health educator and advocate. Behavioral health aides help address individual and community-based behavioral health needs, including those related to alcohol, drug and tobacco abuse as well as mental health problems such as grief, depression, suicide and related issues:http://anthc.org/behavioral-health-aide-program.
As part of ongoing IHS efforts to increase access to quality health care, IHS has proposed a draft policy statement to expand its community health aide program, including exploring administrative requirements for this expansion. This could include the creation of a national certification board for community health aides in the IHS system.
The Alaska Area Native Health Service, one of 12 regional offices of the IHS, works in conjunction with Alaska Native tribes and tribal organizations to provide comprehensive health services to approximately 150,000 Alaska Natives and American Indians. At one time, IHS provided direct medical care services in Alaska. Through the provisions of self-governance, tribes and tribal organizations have assumed operation of all patient care facilities. IHS-funded, tribally-managed hospitals are located in Anchorage, Barrow, Bethel, Dillingham, Kotzebue, Nome and Sitka. There are seven tribally managed hospitals, more than 20 tribal health centers, more than 160 tribal community health aide clinics and five residential substance abuse treatment centers.
The IHS, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Registration is now open for conference attendees and Marketplace exhibitors for the 2016 National Tribal Health Conference (33rd Annual Consumer Conference).
September 19-22, 2016
This annual conference is the premier Indian health event that attracts over 500 Tribal health professionals, elected leaders, advocates, researchers, and community-based service providers. This year’s conference theme, “Achieving and Sustaining Quality Health Care in Indian Country” will provide a framework for robust discussions and training on how to move forward with a quality Indian health system for our next generations.
For more information about the National Tribal Health Conference please click on this link.
We look forward to seeing you in September!
Questions? Contact NIHB at 202-507-4070 or email
IHS Issues Multiple ‘Dear Tribal Leader Letters’ initiating Tribal Consultation on Several Initiatives
On July 29th, the Indian Health Service (IHS) released several ‘Dear Tribal Leader Letters’ updating Tribes on several Tribal consultation opportunities regarding recent policy proposals put forth by IHS.
First, IHS has extended the consultation period for its Tribal Premium Sponsorship Draft Circular. Tribal Premium Sponsorship occurs when a Tribe pays health insurance premiums on behalf of its IHS eligible members. By enrolling members in health insurance, it increases third party revenue to the IHS/Tribal facility which allows them to extend the services that they provide. Tribes have until October 31, 2016 to provide comment on this draft circular. In addition, an in-person Tribal consultation opportunity will be available at NIHB’s National Tribal Health Conference on September 19, 2016.
Second, IHS has extended the consultation period for its Community Health Aide Program (CHAP) draft policy until October 27, 2016. IHS proposes to expand the CHAP program that has been so successful in Alaska to the lower 48 states. NIHB has held several calls on the CHAP program to provide more information to Tribes and assist in the comment making process. Further webinar opportunities are in development and will be shared as soon as we have more information. IHS will have an in-person consultation opportunity for Tribes at NIHB’s National Tribal Health Conference on September 19, 2016.
Third, IHS has confirmed several consultation opportunities for Tribes to engage with IHS on its proposed new Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund (CHEF) policy, including several telephone sessions and an in-person session at NIHB’s National Tribal Health Conference on September 19, 2016.
A summary of the new deadlines and consultation activities is below.
- Tribal Premium Sponsorship Consultation – Tribal Comments Due October 31, 2016
- The 1st consultation session will be held at the National Indian Health Board Annual Consumer Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, on September 19, 2016, from 11:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.
- The second consultation session will be held at the National Congress of American Indians 73rd Annual Convention and Marketplace in Phoenix, Arizona, on October 9, 2016, from 3:45 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Community Health Aide Program (CHAP) – Tribal Comments Due October 27, 2016
- Telephone Tribal Consultation/Urban Confer session Call Date: October 4, 2016 (Tuesday)
Call Time: 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Eastern Call In Number: 1-888-955-8942 Participant Passcode: 9659843
- In Person Tribal Consultation/Urban Confer sessions
National Indian Health Board Consumer Conference on September 19, 2016, from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m., in
- Scottsdale, Arizona.
National Congress of American Indians 73rd Annual Convention and Marketplace scheduled for October 9, 2016, from 2:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. in Phoenix, Arizona.
- Scottsdale, Arizona.
- Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund (CHEF)
Telephone Tribal Consultation Sessions
- Call Date: Tuesday, August 16, 2016
- Call Time: 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)
- Call In Number: (888) 790-3108
- Participant Passcode: 4110567
- Call Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)
- Call In Number: (888) 790-3108
- Participant Passcode: 4110567
- Call Date: Monday, October 24, 2016
In Person Tribal Consultation Sessions
- National Indian Health Board Consumer Conference on September 19, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m., in Scottsdale, Arizona.
- National Congress of American Indians 73rd Annual Convention and Marketplace scheduled for October 9, 2016, from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., in Phoenix, Arizona.
For more information, click on this link.
Four groups in Alaska will soon receive federal funding for telemedicine and distance learning projects.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday that it will award $23.4 million in grants to such projects across the country, with about $1.4 million of that going to Alaska.
Telemedicine and distance learning services can help “connect rural communities with medical and education experts in other parts of the country” to improve access to health care and educational opportunities, the USDA said in a statement.
The Copper River School District will get $488,558 to provide distance learning services to five primary schools in extremely remote Alaska villages, the USDA said.
The other three groups in the state will use the grants for telemedicine: The Tanana Chiefs Conference will get a $375,000 award to expand its telemedicine program; Anchorage nonprofit Hope Community Resources Inc. will get $279,820 to buy video-conferencing equipment for mental health and disability counseling, training and support services; and Barrow nonprofit Arctic Slope Native Association Ltd. will get $287,198 to buy a tele-pharmacy remote dispensing system. (Right now, medication can only be flown into remote clinics.)
“Using technology for educational opportunities and medical care can provide services that are often unavailable in rural areas,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
Jacoline Bergstrom, executive director of health services at the Tanana Chiefs Conference, said the money will be used to upgrade and buy equipment that’s particularly useful in a large swath of the Interior where many of the villages are especially remote.
“Our doctors travel on a regular basis, but sometimes weather is an issue and sometimes planes don’t always make it in,” she said. “That’s another benefit to telemedicine — you can still have a physician engage with a patient.”
The Tanana Chief Conference’s telemedicine services help to connect the village-based clinics with doctors in Fairbanks.
The grants from the USDA will support 45 distance learning and 36 telemedicine projects across the U.S.
Source: Alaska Dispatch News
Published on July 17, 2016
The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium is announcing an expansion of service by providing prior authorization and travel coordination for Alaska Native and American Indian Medicaid beneficiaries through the ANMC Travel Management Office by the end of July.
ANTHC is pleased to partner with the State of Alaska in this change to Medicaid travel management that will better serve our people. By elevating ANTHC’s role in coordination and management of Medicaid-approved travel, our intention is to provide a higher level of customer service and create efficiencies in travel.
This new service has been years in the making and is now an important part of the State of Alaska’s Medicaid reform plans. Many patients must travel to Anchorage for their care at ANMC; we hope that our management will be able to better serve our people during their stays.
For our Tribal health partners that have opted in to this service, the most important change will be that if a Medicaid beneficiary’s care is scheduled through ANMC, then the travel will be coordinated through ANMC. At this time, this does not include travel from villages to regional hubs.
Individuals with travel arrangements in progress will continue to work with Xerox and the State travel office through the completion of these scheduled trips. If you have questions regarding existing trips, please contact Xerox at (907) 644-6800, option 5.
ANTHC staff in the Travel Management Office will be available to help guide you through the new process and answer questions you may have. To contact the ANMC Travel Management Office, call 1-866-824-8140 or (907) 729-7720, option 1. You may also email the ANMC Travel Office at email@example.com.
For more information, visit http://anmc.org/patients-visitors/travel-lodging/#tmo.
On June 1, 2016, IHS initiated tribal consultation through a Dear Tribal Leader Letter and a draft policy statement titled, “Creating a National Indian Health Service Community Health Aide Program.” A national Community Health Aide Program (CHAP) would increase access to quality health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives through the expansion of community health aides at facilities operated by tribes and the Indian Health Service (IHS), including administrative requirements, such as the creation of a national certification board. To assist tribes with developing thoughtful comments, the National Indian Health Board (NIHB), in partnership with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) developed a Briefing Paper to provide some background information on the CHAP program and some preliminary ideas on what to include in any comments that tribes might submit. On July 7, NIHB and NPAIHB held a tribal-only call to solicit initial feedback on IHS’ proposal and answer any questions.
On July 15, NIHB will provide tribes with another opportunity to learn more about the CHAP program and its success in Alaska through a webinar from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. eastern. The purpose of the webinar will be to provide a more comprehensive overview of the CHAP program and answer any remaining questions that tribes might have.
- Welcome & Purpose of the Webinar: Devin Delrow, Director of Federal Relations at the National Indian Health Board
- CHAP Overview in Alaska: Dr. Robert Onders, Medical Director Health Systems and Community Services at Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
- Review How the Program Can Be Replicated: Christina Peters, Oral Health Director at NPAIHB
- Questions: All presenters
For more information on joining the webinar, please contact Sarah Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Tribal Leader:
How the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) delivers benefits and services for Veterans is growing and changing rapidly. In this environment of change, VA is more committed than ever to fulfilling its tribal consultation policy, which includes strengthening VA’s relationship with tribes and consulting with tribal governments on all VA policies and actions that may impact tribes and Veterans across Indian Country.
VA wants to ensure that the needs of American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans and the priorities of tribal governments are part of these changes, now and in the future. To that end, VA is seeking input from tribal leaders on the top 3 to 5 priorities that tribes have for serving Veterans in Indian Country. Once identified, these priorities may be used to assist with the collaborative development of an Indian Country Veterans Affairs policy agenda, which will inform tribal governments, VA, members of Congress, and other Veteran-serving partners in coming years.
To gather this input, VA plans to hold two tribal consultation sessions in 2016.
The first consultation will take place Wednesday, June 29, 2016, at 5:15 p.m. at the Spokane Convention Center, at 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane, WA 99201. This session is held in conjunction with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Mid-Year Conference, taking place June 27-30, 2016, in Spokane, WA.
The second consultation will be scheduled later this year. VA will send a second letter to confirm this session when the date and time are finalized.
VA also invites written comments on the consultation topics, particularly for tribal leaders and representatives who may be unable to attend the consultation meetings in person. Written comments may be submitted as follows:
Mail: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (075F)
810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 915G
Washington, DC 20420
Written comments should be submitted no later than October 7, 2016. For questions, please contact VA’s Office of Tribal Government Relations at 202-461-7400 or at the email address above.
VA will compile all 2016 testimony received into a tribal consultation report to be disseminated in 2017. VA wishes to thank tribal leaders for their continued support, input, and engagement as we continue our work to honor and serve American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans.
ASHNHA has partnered with AK Health Reform to present “Medicaid Redesign: Unbundled” a health reform webinar series. The webinars will run May 24 – June 21 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon – 1 p.m. The series will cover various elements of SB 74 starting with an overview followed by topics such as prescription drug monitoring, telemedicine, demonstration projects, tribal health and more.
Following is a schedule by date:
Presented by: Rebecca Madison, Alaska e-Health Network and Chuck Kopp, Chief of Staff to Senator Pete Micciche
6/9/2016: Behavioral Health
Presented by: AMHTA
6/14/2016: Promising Demonstration Projects
Presented by: Rick Davis, Central Peninsula Hospital, Elizabeth Ripley, Mat-Su Health Foundation, and Jocelyn Pemberton, Alaska Innovative Medicine
6/16/2016: Emergency Room (ER) Project
6/21/2016: Tribal Health Policy
Presented by: Jim Roberts, ANTHC
No registration is required. To join the webinars, click on this link:
Call-in number: 1-800-832-0736
Room number *4117317#
For more information, click on this link.