The Alaska Native Health Board, in an effort to help inform lawmakers and policymakers, has been developing a series of white papers that touch on the impacts, preparedness, capacity, and difficulties facing the Alaska Tribal Health System and Alaska Natives during the Novel Coronavirus Response and Crisis of 2020.
Currently in this series:
- COVID-19 and Alaska Native Communities
- Coronavirus Public Health Response to Alaska Fisheries in Rural Alaska Native Communities
As the impacts and response to Novel Coronavirus continue to evolve, the Alaska Native Health Board will work to present the most up-to-date and relevant information affecting Alaska’s Tribal Health System and its Native peoples.
The National Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup has finalized their recommendations for the Indian Health Service Fiscal Year 2022 Budget. Below is a copy of those recommendations. A link to the full document is here.
ANHB President and CEO, Verné Boerner, provided testimony to Congress on September 25, 2019. The Legislative Hearing, entitled Advance Appropriations: Protecting Tribal Communities from the Effects of a Government Shutdown, was before the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States. Ms. Boerner was one of many Tribal leaders who discussed the impacts that government shutdowns have on Tribal operations and patient care, highlighting the positive impacts that advance appropriations authority would give to Indian health programs.
The hearing focused on two pieces of legislation introduced during the 116th Congress. The first was H.R. 1128, the Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act, introduced by Congresswoman Betty McCollum. H.R. 1128 seeks to authorize advance appropriations for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, and the Indian Health Services. The second bill was H.R. 1135, the Indian Health Service Advance Appropriations Act, introduced by Congressman Don Young. H.R. 1135 seeks to provide advance appropriations authority only to the Indian Health Service. Congressman Young has introduce similar bills in the 113th, 114th, and 115th Congresses and has been a long-time advocate of advance appropriations authority for the Indian Health Service.
Each of the House bills also now has a Senate companion legislation. On September 25, 2019, Senator Lisa Murkowski’s Office introduce a companion bill to H.R. 1135, S. 2541. The bill was introduced with Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) as original co-sponsors. The companion legislation to H.R. 1128 is S. 229, introduced by Senator Udall’s Office. Currently, the entire Alaska Congressional delegation supports Indian Health Service advance appropriations authority.
Below is a copy of Ms. Boerner’s testimony.
Video of the Subcommittee Hearing.
ANHB held its February Mega Meeting in Juneau February 5-7 to resounding success. As part of the Mega Meeting, ANHB along with its sponsors was able to hold a 50th Anniversary Evening Reception. During the event, the Tlingit dance group Wosh.ji.een from Juneau performed traditional local dances, even getting attendees in on the action. Welcome remarks were given by Chairman Andrew Jimmie, and an opening prayer was given by Lincoln Bean, Sr. of the Organized Village of Kake.
A silent auction was held with donated items from ANHB’s member organizations featuring beautiful art from across the state. The fundraising efforts of the auction raised just under $8000 for ANHB cultural and welcome events, including the 2020 National Indian Health Board Consumer Conference which ANHB will host in Anchorage, September 2020. One of ANHB’s member organizations, the Tanana Chiefs Conference, created a Special ANHB 50th Year Anniversary video. The video documents the early history of the ANHB, its achievements, and interviews with many former and current board members.
As part of the celebratory events, ANHB’s Board of Directors directed the creation of a commemorative coin for the 50th anniversary. ANHB worked with the Alaska Mint to develop a coin featuring the ANHB logo on the obverse and a 50th anniversary design on the reverse. These coins were given as commemorative gifts of thanks to the Board of Directors and the Association of Tribal Health Directors. The coins have also been presented to members of the Alaska Congressional Delegation as a thank you for their work on behalf of Alaska Native peoples.
Below is the Special ANHB 50th Year Anniversary video.
ANHB would like to thank the sponsors and donors of our 50th anniversary celebration.
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
Alaska State Hospital & Nursing Home Association
Arctic Slope Native Association
Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation
Copper River Native Association
Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments
Eastern Aleutian Tribes
First National Bank Alaska
Hobbs, Straus, Dean, & Walker
Kenaitze Indian Tribe
Ketchikan Indian Community
Kodiak Area Native Association
Mt. Sanford Tribal Consortium
Norton Sound Health Corporation
SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Corporation
Valdez Native Tribe
Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation
Diana L. Zirul
A Renewed Era of Federal-Tribal Relations: White House released a report outlining some of the successes of this Administration while working on behalf of Tribes
Today, the White House is releasing a report outlining some of the successes of this Administration while working on behalf of Tribes. The report sets a baseline of progress for Tribal Nations to reference in their ongoing work with the federal government, and outlines the priorities that the White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA) will continue to work on based on Tribal leaders’ recommendations.
While the Administration and Tribes have partnered for historic achievements, there is still much more to do. President Obama signed Executive Order 13647 on June 26, 2013, establishing the WHCNAA, which represents a path to a more effective federal government for Indian Country, bringing together federal Departments and Agencies from across the Executive Branch to “break down siloes” and coordinate for more effective programs.
As demonstrated over the past eight years, when Tribal Nations and the federal government work together in a true spirit of nation-to-nation cooperation, momentous progress can be achieved.
Read the full report HERE.
Karen Diver is the Special Assistant to the President for Native American Affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council
U.S. Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) today issued the following statements after being elected Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for the 115th Congress.
“I am honored to serve as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and look forward to working with Vice Chairman Udall and members of the Committee to pass legislation that helps improve the lives of people across Indian Country. In our roles, we will address the issues of job creation, natural resource management, health care, education, public safety and housing in Indian communities,” said Chairman Hoeven. “We will also make it a priority to promote economic growth. Jobs and economic growth are the priorities that will help Indian families, communities and businesses succeed.”
“I am enormously honored to become the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, a role that will strengthen my ability to fight for and defend the sovereignty of New Mexico’s 23 tribes and all Native American communities,” said Vice Chairman Udall. “With the Indian Affairs Committee’s proud tradition of bipartisan cooperation in mind, I am very much looking forward to working with Chairman Hoeven and all our committee members to help secure progress for Indian Country. Throughout my career, I have been committed to working alongside tribes to uphold our trust responsibility. The U.S. Senate has a duty to support tribal communities in their work to build sustainable economies and good schools, provide quality health care, maintain access to clean air and water, and protect the deep Native American connection to culture and tradition. Native Americans have faced, and continue to face, great challenges and injustices – and while we have made progress, it is abundantly clear that we have much work to do to improve government-to-government consultation with tribes and to ensure environmental justice. I am proud of my long record as a strong defender of Native American rights, and this new position will enable me to work more closely with tribal communities in New Mexico and across our nation.”
“I want to congratulate Chairman Hoeven and Vice Chairman Udall on their elections,” said former committee Chairman John Barrasso. “I look forward to working closely with them both, and with all the committee members, to pass legislation that will empower tribal communities and will strengthen the government-to-government relationship the United States shares with tribes.”
“I look forward to working with Chairman Hoeven and Vice Chairman Udall to ensure that our nation’s trust and treaty responsibilities are upheld across all of Indian Country,” said former committee Vice Chairman Jon Tester. “I am confident that during this session of Congress the Senate Indian Affairs Committee will continue its long history of working across the aisle to promote tribal sovereignty and strengthen economic opportunities, health care and education for all Native American and Alaska Native families.”
The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) convened over 170 Tribal leaders from across the nation to establish united Indian health priorities for the new Congress and Administration at the Native Health Presidential Transition Summit on Thursday, December 8 in Washington, DC.
The all-day event consisted of bipartisan engagement with Members of Congress, including long-time Republican Indian health advocate, Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), as well as Vice Chairman and previous Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT). The Summit also featured discussion-based sessions with policy experts and Tribal leaders on the American Indian and Alaska Native priorities for the Trump Administration to advance Indian health.
For more information, click on this link.
The Indian Health Service (IHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently announced that 27 additional IHS and tribal hospitals are eligible for selection by health care providers in both their outpatient and inpatient settings under the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) program. This announcement means recruitment opportunities at NHSC-approved outpatient care sites including health care facilities that provide ambulatory and primary health services in urban and rural communities with limited access to health care.
“This announcement puts IHS on par with critical access hospitals for the first time and expands the resources of the NHSC to tribally-operated hospitals,” said IHS Principal Deputy Director Mary L. Smith. “Recruiting and retaining qualified health care providers at rural hospitals, including IHS facilities, is a major challenge. Programs such as the National Health Service Corps help us attract talented doctors, dentists, behavioral health providers, nurse practitioners and other health professionals to serve our patients.”
This expands the current list of 12 IHS and tribal hospitals that participate as eligible inpatient and outpatient sites for NHSC member clinicians through the Critical Access Hospital designation. The participating hospitals can utilize this expansion to provide enhanced staffing throughout their hospital service delivery system. Strengthening and growing the primary care workforce at IHS and tribal facilities is a priority and this expansion will allow qualified health care providers to serve at additional hospitals and assist in recruiting and retaining these providers beyond their two-year commitment.
The NHSC helps bring health care to those who need it most by awarding scholarships and loan repayment to primary care clinicians who commit to serving for at least two years at an approved site located in a Health Professional Shortage Area. Health Professional Shortage Areas are designated by HRSA as having shortages of primary care, dental care or mental health providers and may be geographic (a county or service area), population (e.g., low income or Medicaid eligible) or facilities (e.g., federally qualified health centers, or state or federal prisons).
There are more than 10,400 NHSC professionals throughout the U.S., some of whom commit to fulfilling their service at IHS sites such as the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, New Mexico. The site serves as the only medical center in its area and having the NHSC-eligible designation has allowed it to recruit and retain providers who may not have considered rural locations previously. With the expansion of the site’s eligibility extended to its inpatient setting, opportunities to increase the number of NHSC member clinicians will continue to bring quality health care to this underserved area. Current NHSC-site vacancies are also listed on the NHSC site .
List of 27 IHS and Tribal Hospitals that will be added:
- Acoma-Canoncito-Laguna Hospital
- Blackfeet Community Hospital
- Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility
- Claremore Indian Hospital
- Crownpoint Health Care Facility
- Eagle Butte Indian Hospital
- Fort Yates PHS Indian Hospital
- Gallup Indian Medical Center
- Lawton Indian Hospital
- Mescalero Indian Hospital
- Northern Navajo Medical Center
- Omaha-Winnebago PHS Indian Hospital
- Phoenix Indian Medical Center
- Pine Ridge Indian Hospital
- Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Hospital
- Redlake Hospital
- Rosebud Indian Hospital
- Santa Fe Hospital
- Sioux San PHS Indian Hospital
- Sells Indian Hospital
- Whiteriver Indian Hospital
- Zuni IHS Hospital
- Alaska Native Medical Center
- Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital
- San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation
- Tsehootsooi Medical Center
- Tuba City Regional Health Care
IHS Hospitals will become eligible sites for new NHSC awardees when the 2017 NHSC Loan Repayment Application and Program Guidance is released in early 2017. Information on eligibility and application deadlines is available at https://www.hrsa.gov/loanscholarships/hrsaapplicationbulletin.pdf [PDF]
The last walls have been built and the final touches are being prepared for the six-story, 202-room patient housing facility to welcome its first guests in January 2017. Earlier this month, ANTHC obtained the certificate of occupancy from the Municipality of Anchorage, which has allowed ANTHC staff to begin filling the guest rooms with the amenities that will truly make it a home away from home for the 60 percent of ANMC patients that travel to Anchorage for their care.
The facility is currently being provisioned, including bedding and linens, coffee cups, rocking chairs for family rooms, appliances for communal kitchens and “wiggle walls” – 90-inch interactive video screens that can recognize the movements of children, installed in play areas on the first and sixth floors.
“We are especially excited for the amenities designed for families and kids, since these are not typically found in the lodging where our people would stay before,” said Phil Degnan, ANTHC’s Housing General Manager. “These family-friendly spaces will provide moments of fun during their health treatment.”
In addition to the final furnishings, new ANTHC staff for the patient housing facility have started training. These staff include the general manager, assistant general manager, front desk supervisors and agents, security officers, facilities supervisor and maintenance technicians. Housekeeping and cafeteria operations will be managed by contract with NANA Management Services, which also operates the ANMC Cafeteria.
The final construction to connect the sky bridge from the patient housing facility to the north side of ANMC hospital began this week and will open Jan. 2.
Since the project broke ground in May 2015, it has been exciting to see the patient housing facility rise on the Alaska Native Health Campus and we commend the ANTHC Strategic Access staff that have seen the project through since it was an idea in a boardroom.
For more information about the project, visit http://anmc.org/new-anmc-patient-housing/.
The curriculum for Alaska’s Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) program was recently approved by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, through ANTHC’s partnership with Iḷisaġvik College in Barrow. This newly accredited degree program offers DHAT students the opportunity to earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree.
In addition to the two-year AAS degree, which helps create broader career pathways for DHAT graduates, Iḷisaġvik will award a DHAT certificate upon completion of the first year of study. The program will still operate out of the existing instructional sites in Anchorage and Bethel, but will now benefit from the institutional support available through Iḷisaġvik. During their course of study, DHAT students have access to the full range of student services at the Tribal college, including financial aid, scholarship resources, academic support and tutoring.
The process to accredit the DHAT program began last year when ANTHC and Iḷisaġvik staff collaborated on the project by outlining shared program goals. The partnership was formally announced at the DHAT graduation ceremony in June. DHAT students who started in July are enrolled in the first cohort of students in the Iḷisaġvik degree program.
“We are happy about this partnership with the DHAT program, as it is uniquely suited to meet health care needs of rural Alaska as well as provide access to education for students in rural communities,” said Dr. Birgit Meany, Iḷisaġvik College Dean of Academic Affairs.
DHATs make important contributions to the oral health and well-being of Alaska Native people in rural areas of our state through culturally appropriate dental education and routine dental services within the scope of their training. This model of dental care increases preventative care necessary for the reduction of cavities and other dental issues that lead to oral diseases.
Since 2004, these mid-level providers have expanded much-needed access to dental care and prevention services for more than 40,000 Alaska Native people living in 81 rural Alaska communities.
For more information about the DHAT program, visit http://anthc.org/dental-health-aide/.