Category Archives: Public Policy

House of Representatives approves Rep. Gosar funding increase for Native American dental care

By Craig Palmer, ADA News staff

Washington—Dentist/Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) asked the House of Representatives July 26 to approve a $4.3 million plus funding increase to advance the oral health of Native Americans, focusing House attention during the rancorous debt limit debate on the less pressing and necessary business of congressional appropriations.

Rep. Gosar: Asks House of Representatives July 26 for funding boost for the oral health of Native Americans. He is shown here addressing the 2010 ADA House of Delegates. Photo credit: Photo by EZ Event Photography.

“I would like to make it clear on this floor tonight that this reallocation of funds is explicitly intended to fund dental health programs within the Indian Health Service at the level recommended by the administration. The United States government took on long ago a number of treaty obligations to our Native people, and health care was among them. In particular, I cannot state strongly enough how imperative it is that Indian tribes have their efforts in the area of oral health fully funded.”

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American Dental Association Testimony Before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies

In testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies, May 3, 2011, the American Dental Association urged Congress to increase resources for IHS programs as a means of: addressing the early childhood caries crisis in Indian Country; expanding Dental Clinical and Preventative Support Centers; improving health information technology, including the complete deployment of Electronic Dental Record; and, upgrading dental facilities.
Download the ADA testimony here.

The Friends of Indian Health, a national coalition of over 50 Native and non-Native organizations and stakeholders, also provided testimony encouraging Congress to: enhance IHS oral health professional recruitment and retention efforts; increase the loan repayments account; and, improve IHS support of contracted services.
Download the Friends of Indian Health testimony here.

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Friends of Indian Health

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.

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Health Care Reform

The National Indian Health Board’s Health Care Reform page in an excellent clearinghouse for health care reform information and resources.

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