In my October 11, 2011, letter to tribal leaders, I initiated a consultation on the 2007 Contract Support Costs (CSC) Policy and requested nominations for members of a CSC workgroup to help review and evaluate the policy. Two members were selected from each IHS Area, and the first meeting of the workgroup is scheduled for January 31 - February 1, 2012, at the Hilton Hotel in Rockville, MD, near IHS headquarters. The workgroup is comprised of tribal leaders, tribal employees, and technical representatives, and is compliant with the Intergovernmental exemption of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. While the official meeting with the workgroup members and the federal government is allowed to be a closed meeting if needed, we do have limited space available for audience members who wish to attend and observe the meeting, given the importance of the topic of the meeting. We anticipate this will be the first of several meetings on this important and complex issue, and will be encouraging the Area representatives to communicate with tribal leaders and share information, provide recommendations, and gather input during this process.
I recently sent a letter [PDF - 31KB] to all Tribes to request consultation on implementation of the long-term care provisions in the recent permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act included as a part of the Affordable Care Act. I am requesting comments on the recommendations from the November 2010 Conference entitled "Long-Term Care in Indian Country: New Opportunities and New Ideas" and priorities for implementation efforts. While we have not received specific funding for long-term care, I would like to identify actions we can take now while we work through the budget formulation process on this topic. Comments are due by March 16, 2012.
The President signed H.R. 2055, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012, on Friday, December 23, 2011, which provides the Indian Health Service with a budget for fiscal year (FY) 2012 through the end of September 2012. We are so grateful that in this time of fiscal restraint, IHS received an increase in the budget. The overall budget for FY 2012 for IHS is $4.3 billion, an increase of $237 million over FY 2011, or a 5.8% increase. The budget includes several priorities from the President’s budget and priorities from tribal budget consultation input, including increases for Contract Health Services, the Indian Health Care Improvement Fund, Health IT Security, Direct Operations, Contract Support Costs, Staffing for New Facilities, and Health Care Facility Construction. Congress also included some decreases as savings in grant program funding and Sanitation Facilities Construction funding. However, Congress did also apply an across-the-board rescission of 0.16%, so our entire budget was reduced across all lines by that amount.
We are working hard to get the funding out to all our programs so that our patients can benefit from the increase in resources we have received for FY2012. While this increase does not address the entire need, it continues the great progress we have made over the last few years with the support of President Obama, HHS Secretary Sebelius, our bipartisan supporters in Congress, and the support of our Tribal partners. More patients will receive needed healthcare services as a result of this budget, and that is the most important outcome of all.