February 18, 2022 | www.nihb.org
Next week, from Monday, February 21 to Friday, February 25, Congress will be on recess from Washington, D.C. and conducting their home state or district work. Members of Congress will be engaging with constituents and learning about issues and priorities during this time. This home state and district work period is an opportunity to reach out to your Members regarding advance appropriations and funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS). 

Congress has passed H.R. 6617Further Additional Extending Government Funding Act, to temporarily fund the government through March 11, 2022. Negotiations are underway to finalize a bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year to September 30, 2022.

It is critical to urge your Congressional Members, while they are in the home state or district, to include for the IHS (1) funding levels at no less than the House-passed amount of $8.114 billion and (2) advance appropriations in the final appropriation bill.  It would be helpful to ask these Members to reach out personally to other Congressional and Appropriation Committee leaders on these important Tribal requests for Indian health care services.

You can access the NIHB Toolkit for information on advance appropriations and IHS funding here.  There are multiple, effective ways to educate and engage your Members while in their home states or districts:

Schedule a Meeting
Members of Congress are meeting with constituents during this work period in their states and districts. As a constituent, you can talk one-on-one with your representatives on advance appropriations and funding for the IHS.

You can email your meeting request through the Member’s official website. After submitting a meeting request, it is important to follow-up with a subsequent email or phone call to the office. 

Find your Member here and visit their website to schedule a meeting. 

Conduct a Site Visit
Site visits to your Tribe's local Indian health facilities are an effective way for Members of Congress to see firsthand how appropriations are impacting local Indian health centers. This is an effective way to show Members how advance appropriations could shield the Indian health care clinics and hospitals from the harmful impacts of government shutdowns and temporary funding. 

To schedule a site visit, visit your Member’s official website and click on ‘Meeting Requests’. It is best to follow-up with a phone call or email to ensure priority for your request. 

Send NIHB Your Stories
Even if you cannot secure a meeting, you can still educate Members in other ways.  Submit to NIHB your stories of the impacts of government shutdowns on your local Indian health clinic or hospital. NIHB also communicates with Congress about these problems. It is helpful to show Members exactly how their constituents are affected and why they need increased funding and advance appropriations for Indian health care. 

Please be specific and provide context in your stories, such as “our clinic serves 150 patients a day and had 3 doctors but lost 2 of them during the shutdown last year. Without these doctors, our patients must travel over an hour to the nearest clinic”.  

Please send the stories to Ciara Johnson, NIHB Congressional Relations Associate, at cjohnson@nihb.org.

Write an Op-Ed
Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper are useful in drawing attention to important issues in Indian Country. Contact your local newspaper and ask for the editorial page editor to find out the policy on submitting op-eds. 

For a writing guide or technical assistance, download NIHB’s Toolkit on Advance Appropriations as a resource.

Attend a Town Hall
Members of Congress often hold town hall meetings during their ‘home state or district work’ week to listen to the concerns of voters. This is an occasion to invite community members to join you in sharing about the need for advance appropriations and increased funding for Indian health care with Members of Congress and their staff. Visit the website of your representatives to find more information on when they will be holding town halls. You can find your Member here.

NIHB would like to hear about the ways in which you engaged and your experiences during the ‘state/district work’ week! For further questions or assistance, please email Ciara Johnson, NIHB Congressional Relations Associate, at cjohnson@nihb.org.
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