February 19, 2021 |  Issue 21-05 Missed our previous Washington Report? Click Here to Visit our Archives!
Upcoming National Meetings 

National Congress of American Indians Executive Council Winter Session
February 21-25
 
Secretary's Tribal Advisory Committee Meeting February 25-26
Contact Devin Delrow for more information.

Tribal Advisory Committee Vacancies
To see a list of Current Tribal Advisory Committee Vacancies and Other information Click Here


 
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Top Story
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Join NIHB in Support of Congresswoman Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior
The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is holding a hearing on Tuesday, February 23 at 9:30 AM EST to consider the nomination of Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM) to be Secretary of the Interior. NIHB fully supports Congresswoman Haaland's nomination and in December 2020 the NIHB Board of Directors sent a letter to then-President Elect Biden endorsing Congresswoman Haaland as the Secretary of the Interior. NIHB encourages Tribal leaders, advocates, and community members to call the Senators urging a confirmation vote. NIHB has provided talking points and phone numbers. Follow the link to watch the hearing: https://www.energy.senate.gov/live-webcast.
 
For questions, contact Josh Jackson, Congressional Relations Manager at jjackson@nihb.org.
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Hearing to Consider Nomination of the Honorable Xavier Becerra to be Secretary of Health and Human Services

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is holding a hearing to consider the nomination of Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be Secretary of Health and Human Services on Tuesday, February 23 at 10:00 AM EST. The hearing will be broadcast live on the
Committee's website.
 
For questions, contact Josh Jackson, Congressional Relations Manager, at jjackson@nihb.org.
In This Issue:

TOP STORY
 
CAPITOL HILL UPDATES
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Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Elects New Leadership
On Thursday, February 11, 2021 U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) were both unanimously elected as Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for the 117th Congress. Read the full press release here.

CHU2
New Chairman for House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States
 
On Wednesday, February 17, Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) of the House Natural Resources Committee announced the Vice Chairs and Subcommittee Chairs for the 117th Congress. Freshmen Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM) is replacing Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) as Chair of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples. Rep. Fernández was endorsed by fellow New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland who is also a Biden nominee for Secretary of the Interior.
CHU3
NIHB Supports Budget Reconciliation Package with Letter to Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
On Friday, February 12, NIHB sent a letter to Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) expressing support for the budget reconciliation package proposed by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Mirroring the House budget recommendations, it included:
  • $5.484 billion for IHS
  • $2 billion third-party relief
  • $1.5 billion for testing, tracing, PPE
  • $600 million for vaccine education and distribution
  • $600 million health care facilities
  • $500 million Purchased/Referred Care
  • $420 million mental/behavioral health services
  • $240 million public health workforce
  • $140 million electronic health records/telehealth infrastructure
  • $84 million Urban Indian health
  • $10 million potable water delivery
For questions, contact Josh Jackson, Congressional Relations Manager, at jjackson@nihb.org.
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House Committee on Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing "Connecting America: Broadband Solutions to Pandemic Problems"
 
On Wednesday, February 17, the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce hosted a hearing titled "Connecting America: Broadband Solutions to Pandemic Problems." The hearing focused on how best to leverage federal resources to expand the nation's broadband network to underserved communities to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the hearing addressed how the federal government can assist with broadband affordability for low-income earners and how increased broadband access will assist in school reopening, remote work, and telehealth. A recording of the full hearing on the Committee website can be viewed here.
CHU5
NIHB Joins Letter to President Biden Requesting an Immediate Halt to the Dakota Access Pipeline
 
On Tuesday, February 9th, the National Indian Health (NIHB) joined 13 other Tribal organizations in a letter to President Biden requesting an immediate halt to the construction and operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The letter echoes a January 19 letter from the Standing Rock Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, Oglala Sioux, and Yankton Sioux Tribes that outlines the illegality of the current construction and operation of the DAPL given the lack of an environmental impact study with Tribal Consultation. A January 26, ruling from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals also affirmed the need for a comprehensive environmental review before the approval of such projects and that the pipeline's easement violated Tribal rights. NIHB Resolution 16-02, Supporting Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Opposition to Dakota Access Pipeline affirms it as a threat to the water supply, health and well-being of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Tribal communities.
CHU6 President Biden Nominates Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to Lead the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden nominated Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to serve as Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Ms. Brooks-LaSure has more than 20 years of experience in health policy and previously served within CMS during the Obama Administration. In her role as Administrator, Ms. Brooks-LaSure would play a key role in shaping the policies that govern the Medicaid and Medicare programs, which are important sources of revenue for the Indian health care system. If confirmed, NIHB looks forward to working with her.
FEDERAL ADMINISTRATION AND STATE GOVERNMENT UPDATES
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Information Collection Request from HHS on an Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity Center

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health is seeking input from Federally recognized Indian Tribes/American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes, Tribal Organizations, Tribal-serving organizations, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and AI/AN-Serving institutions of higher education on the creation of a new Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity Center. This center will focus on Indigenous health research policy and innovation for AI/AN populations in order to identify and reduce health disparities. The center intends to work collaboratively with AI/AN leaders and populations to focus on their goals and needs. Read HHS's request for information and comments are due March 14, 2021. 
FASG1HHS COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Meeting on February 26
HHS is hosting a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force virtual meeting on February 26, 2021 to introduce task force members, cover the purpose as outlined in the executive order, "Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery", and discuss the creation and development of a final report that will address continued health inequalities seen by COVID-19 survivors with recommended actions to combat said inequalities in future pandemic outbreaks. The Task Force was established on January 21, 2021 and its recommendations that will be shared with President Biden in response to health inequalities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To register for the meeting, please send an email to COVID19HETF@hhs.gov by 5:00 p.m. ET on February 24, 2021
On February 8, CMS released a notice on an extension of a currently approved collection detailing "Limitations on Provider Related Donations and Health Care Related Taxes, Medicaid and Supporting Regulations in 42 CFR 433.68 and 433.74." This collection will be used by states to submit written documentation regarding the proper regulatory requirements associated with waivers for broad-based and uniform requirements for all healthcare related tax programs so that the federal financial participation can be determined. Comments are due March 10, 2021. 
On February 12, HHS published a notice of proposed rulemaking with a delay in effective date and additional requests for comments on their "National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: Revisions to the Vaccine Injury Table." This proposed rulemaking made changes to Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration, vasovagal syncope as well as changes to Item XVII from the Vaccine Injury Table. This regulation is a part of the "Regulatory Freeze Pending Review" memorandum and was originally published on January 21, 2021. The new comment deadline will be extended to April 23, 2021. Comments on this proposed rule where initially due February 16, 2021. 
GRANTS & RESOURCES
On March 4, NIHB is facilitating a Listening Session on Medicaid managed care issues that impact American Indians and Alaska Native (AI/AN) beneficiaries and Indian Health Care Providers. Tribal leaders, technical advisors, health directors and business office staff are encouraged to attend. Issues identified during the Listening Session will help guide an agenda and discussion topics at an upcoming Managed Care Roundtable taking place in Spring 2021. Follow this link to register for the Listening Session on Thursday, March 4 at 2 pm ET. 
GR2NIHB 2021 National Tribal Public Health Summit
NIHB is hosting its annual National Tribal Public Health Summit on April 27-29, 2021 through a virtual platform. The Summit brings together public health practitioners, researchers, and policy experts to allow for conversation, mobilization, and strategy and will focus onCOVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic has illuminated the critical underfunding of the Indian Health Service (IHS) and the importance of improving Tribal public health infrastructure. Learn more about the Summit on the event website.
In the wake of COVID-19, a special enrollment period is now open and NIHB is encouraging Tribes and Tribal health facilities to provide information and resources on health coverage options for AI/AN families with mixed status, and men, women, and children who may suffer from mental health or substance abuse challenges. Enrolling in health coverage - which includes Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, VA, and private insurance - helps AI/ANs to access preventive services and survive and manage serious illnesses. The special open enrollment period is open until May 15, 2021. Read NIHB's blog about health coverage.
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