The Indian Health Service

912 Words Sep 13th, 2014 4 Pages
This article offers a brief history of the laws governing AI/AN (American Indian/Alaskan Native) health policy, as well as recent trends and contemporary issues. A long history of underfunding of the Indian Health Service (IHS) has led to serious challenges in providing proper care. One law designed to meet these challenges was the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, enacted in 1975. This law authorized AI/AN tribes to take over the management of health programs, carry over funding,. and receive third-party revenue, as well as made them eligible for grants and assisted them with contract support costs. More recently, Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) should increase the number of AI/AN individuals eligible for and enrolled in Medicaid. This should result in increased access to health services for the high percentage of AI/AN adults living at or below the federal poverty level in 2009 (20.4%). Still, the problem of inadequate health care persists, as the Indian Health Service (IHS) budget has not kept pace with medical inflation and the increases in AI/AN population. Long-term underfunding of the IHS is a contributing factor to AI/AN health disparities. To bring the IHS budget to an equitable level similar to federal employee health benefits would require approximately an additional $3 billion per year. With a Department of Health and Human Services budget of more than $800 billion per year, this increase…
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