Washington, D.C. - March 31, 2023 - Janet Alkire, Great Plains Area Representative, National Indian Health Board (NIHB) and Chairwoman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, testified before House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs, regarding challenges and opportunities for improving healthcare delivery in Tribal communities, March 29, 2023.
Chairwoman Alkire spoke on the need for proper funding for Indian Health Service (IHS), shortages in medical professionals in the Indian healthcare system, and the importance of expanding Tribal self-governance to agencies beyond the IHS within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Chairwoman Alkire also testified on the importance of Congress fulfilling its trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations by providing full and mandatory funding for the Indian health system.
“After this hearing, I will return home to our financially starved IHS hospital covered in snow and running on boiler heat in subfreezing temperatures…, and I will be waiting,” said Chairwoman Alkire. “Waiting for this subcommittee and Congress to finally take action. Congress must pay its overdue debts and provide American Indians and Alaska Natives the healthcare we deserve and the healthcare we were promised.”
Chairwoman Alkire’s testimony included these five major recommendations.
1. Reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) before September 20, 2023 at $250 Million per year
2. Authorize full mandatory funding for all IHS programs
3. Oversee federal agency data-sharing policies to ensure compliance with existing law
4. Improve Health Professional Staffing in the Indian Health System
5. Support Tribal self-governance expansion at HHS
Watch the full hearing here. (The video started late and missed most of Ms. Alkire’s testimony)
Read NIHB's written testimony here.