Monthly Archives: April 2011
The American Dental Association formed the Friends of Indian Health in 1997 to educate Congress on the disparity of disease and access to health care experienced by American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) and the urgent need to increase annual appropriations for the Indian Health Service (IHS). At that time, the IHS budget was $2 billion and Congress repeatedly had noted in its annual appropriations bills that the allocated funds were not sufficiently meeting the needs of Indian people.
Recognizing that many health groups sounding the same message could be more powerful than individual groups voicing their own smaller concerns, the Friends came together to advocate for one total annual appropriation for the IHS. Over the years, the group has met with Administration officials at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) who prepare the IHS budget, lobbied the Congressional budget committees, testified before the appropriations committees, and worked with the Native American Congressional Caucus and the Coalition for Health Funding to increase IHS funding. Since 1997, the IHS budget has continued to grow and its budget now exceeds $4 billion.
American Dental Association President, Dr. Raymond Gist visited key Native American communities and organizations in New Mexico and Arizona during the month of March to advance oral health outreach and raise awareness in Indian Country. While the Arizona and New Mexico Dental Associations have made numerous trips to Indian Nations to meet with tribal leaders over the past year, it was Dr. Gist’s first visit to Indian Country.
Central to Dr. Gist’s tour is the ADA’s Native American Oral Health Care Project, an initiative focusing on collaborating with tribal leaders, health directors and policy makers to develop a comprehensive approach for improving oral health in Indian Country. The project, which was established by the Arizona and New Mexico Dental Associations in 2010, addresses the imbalance in access to quality oral health care among Native Americans.
The National Indian Health Board’s Health Care Reform page in an excellent clearinghouse for health care reform information and resources.
Kevin Earle and Mark Moores, executive directors of the Arizona Dental Association and the New Mexico Dental Associations respectively, co-wrote an article featured in Indian Country Today titled Earle & Moores: Dentists Committed to Oral Health Care of Native Americans.