United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, yesterday held an oversight and legislative hearing. The oversight hearing was on “Evaluating the Response and Mitigation to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Native Communities.” Additionally, the Committee held a legislative hearing to receive testimony on S. 3650, the Coverage for Urban Indian Health Providers Act.
“Today, tribal communities are experiencing some of the highest rates of infection for COVID-19 in the country. The Indian Health Service recently reported more than 19,000 positive cases in the 12 Service Areas. Because of these high rates, Native communities have taken much needed measures to limit exposure and protect their people,” said Hoeven. “The Committee is holding this hearing to ensure that the Indian Health Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency are coordinating with Indian Tribes during the COVID-19 pandemic response.”
The first panel of witnesses included The Honorable Rear Admiral Michael D. Weahkee, Director of the Indian Health Service, and Mr. Robert J. Fenton, Jr., Regional Administrator of Region 9, Federal Emergency Management Agency. The second panel of witnesses included Mr. Scott Davis, Executive Director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, and Ms. Lisa Elgin, Secretary of the National Indian Health Board.
During the legislative hearing, Hoeven offered remarks on S. 3650 and stated that “this bipartisan bill amends the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to provide parity to the Indian Health System, which is made up of the Indian Health Service, Tribal health programs, and Urban Indian organizations. Currently, Urban Indian organizations are not offered malpractice liability protections that are already provided to Indian Health Service and Tribal health programs’ employees. Urban Indian organizations are providing culturally competent care to Natives living in urban areas.”
S. 3650, the Coverage for Urban Indian Health Providers Act, was introduced by Senators Tina Smith and James Lankford on May 7, 2020. Senators Tom Udall, Martha McSally, Kamala D. Harris, Dianne Feinstein, Kyrsten Sinema, Jerry Moran, Jon Tester, and Elizabeth Warren are also co-sponsors to the bill. This bipartisan bill amends the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to expand the Federal Torts Claims Act coverage to Urban Indian organizations and its employees.
Click here to watch video of Chairman Hoeven’s opening remarks.
For witness testimony and video of the oversight and legislative hearing, click here.