NIHB Testifies Before House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee

NIHB testimony reflects IHS Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup Recommendations for FY 2021
On Tuesday, February 11, 2020, NIHB Board Chair Victoria Kitcheyan testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

February 11, 2020

NIHB Board Chair Testifies Before House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

Today, National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Chair and Great Plains Area Representative, Victoria Kitcheyan, testified on behalf of NIHB for the annual American Indian and Alaska Native Public Witness Hearings on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Indian Health Service (IHS) budget before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. To access NIHB's written testimony, click here .

"The repercussions of continued underfunding of IHS are measurable and quantifiable. An American Indian or Alaska Native born today has a life expectancy that is 5.5 years less than the national average, while in certain states - including in the Great Plains Area where I am from - Our People are dying as much as two decades earlier," said Kitcheyan.

Chairwoman Kitcheyan highlighted the continued underfunding of IHS, discussing how, "...while the IHS annual appropriated budget has increased by roughly 2-3% each year since FY 2008, much of those increases are only enough to cover needs associated with population growth, medical inflation, the rightful full funding of Contract Support Costs, and maintenance of current services. As a result, dollars are scarce for making marked improvements in the quality and accessibility of health services, or to build Tribal public health infrastructure."

NIHB's recommendations for the FY 2021 IHS budget reflect the recommendations of the IHS Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup, which calls for $9.1 billion in funding for IHS next year. As part of NIHB's written and oral testimony, Chairwoman Kitcheyan discussed the need for:

  • A fully-funded, needs-based, and permanent IHS budget funded under mandatory appropriations
  • Authorizing advance appropriations for Indian programs
  • Establishing an indefinite appropriation and distinct line item for 105(l) lease expenditures
  • Meaningful increases to all IHS line items, including but not limited to: Hospitals & Health Clinics; Electronic Health Records; Purchased/Referred Care; Mental Health; Alcohol & Substance Abuse; and IHS Facilities.

The American Indian and Alaska Native Public Witness hearings continue tomorrow before the Subcommittee. In addition Chairwoman Kitcheyan, Tribal and urban Indian witnesses across both days include:

  • Greg Abrahamson, Vice Chair of the Spokane Tribal Business Council;
  • Dr. Shaquita Bell, Chair of American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Native American Child Health;
  • Rodney Cawston, Chairman of the Colville Business Council
  • Maulian Dana, Ambassador of the Penobscot Nation;
  • Ladd Edmo, Chairman of the Fort Hall Business Council;
  • Willie Frank III, Councilman of the Niqually Indian Tribe;
  • Chantel Greene, Secretary of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee;
  • TJ Greene, Sr., Chairman of the Makah Tribal Council of Neah Bay;
  • William Harris, Chief of the Catawba Indian Nation;
  • April Kyle, Vice President for Behavioral Services of the Southcentral Foundation;
  • Esther Lucero, CEO of the Seattle Indian Health Board;
  • Robert Miguel, Chairman of the Ak-Chin Indian Community,
  • Charlene Nelson, Chairwoman of the Shoalwater Bay Tribe;
  • Dr. Aaron Payment, Chairman of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians;
  • Maureen Rosette, President of the National Council of Urban Indian Health;
  • Teresa Sanchez, Board Vice-President of the Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health, Inc.;
  • Leonard Frosman, Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe;
  • Donovan White, Chairman of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate; and
  • Michael Williams, Sr., Chief of the Akiak Native Community.

Next Steps
With the President's Budget released, Congress is now able to move forward with drafting bills for all twelve discretionary budgets. While the House has already begun holding hearings on the FY 2021 budget, the Senate has not yet announced any appropriations hearings.

However, the Senate Appropriations Committee has published information on the Committee website for submitting testimony on FY 2021 appropriations.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior is accepting public testimony through Friday, March 20, 2020 . Instructions can be found here .

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies is accepting public testimony through Friday, May 22, 2020 . Instructions can be found here .

Budget Caps
As NIHB reported last summer , Congress passed a 2-year statutory budget deal that established topline spending numbers for all defense and non-defense programs for FY 2020 and FY 2021. To remain within those statutory caps, appropriations levels for defense and non-defense programs can only be increased by $5 billion above the FY 2020 level. This means that for FY 2021, defense spending is capped at $671.5 billion ($666.5 in FY 2020), while non-defense spending is capped at $626.5 billion ($621.5 in FY 2020).

The $5 billion increase for non-defense programs would be split across all federal agencies and programs that are unrelated to national defense. Unfortunately, this means that the IHS budget is once again unlikely to see meaningful increases to all line item funding levels.

For any questions on FY 2021 appropriations, please contact NIHB Director of Congressional Relations, Shervin Aazami, at

From left to right: RSBCIH, Inc. Board Vice-President Teresa Sanchez, Southcentral Foundation VP of Behavioral Services April Kyle; and NIHB Board Chair Victoria Kitcheyan.

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