News Release

National Council of Urban Indian Health

On July 14, Robyn Sunday-Allen, member of the Cherokee Nation, National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, will testify before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Ms. Sunday-Allen will testify in support of S. 1797, the Urban Indian Health Providers Facilities Improvement Act, during a legislative hearing at 2:30 p.m. EST. S. 1797 would remove a restriction on the use of existing Indian Health Service (IHS) resources under Section 509 of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) (25 U.S.C. § 1659) to allow urban Indian organizations (UIOs) to use existing Indian Health Service urban Indian organization funding for renovating, constructing, and expanding their facilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for urban Indian organizations to make updates to their facilities to make necessary mitigations and accommodations, like no-contact services, socially distanced waiting rooms, facility-level virus prevention protocols like improved air circulation, and increased security to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines—all of which urban Indian organizations do not receive any funding for under the general Indian Health Service budgetary scheme. Section 509 of IHCIA currently permits Indian Health Service to provide urban Indian organizations with funding for only minor renovations needed to achieve accreditation from one accreditation body that is largely not applicable to urban Indian organizations, in effect restricting urban Indian organization facilities from using their Indian Health Service funding for necessary improvements to safely serve their American Indian/Alaska Native patients. The Act, if passed, would amend the law to allow urban Indian organizations to use already-appropriated funds on construction and renovation projects for their facilities, in furtherance of the provision of high-quality care to urban Indian patients.

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