HHS and IHS have issued a letter to Tribal leaders [PDF - 30KB] initiating the formal consultation on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA). The letter requests input in two areas: 1) suggestions on how to consult with Tribes on an ongoing basis; and 2) priorities for implementation. Input can be mailed to IHS or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. While we are mailing the letter to all Tribes, we are posting it here in electronic form to get this information out as soon as possible. Please see the letter and attachments for more details. Thank you for partnering with us as we move forward with implementation.
I attended and provided a welcome on behalf of the Secretary at the recent HHS Regions 6 & 7 Tribal Consultation in Albuquerque, N.M., on April 30, 2010. The purpose of this meeting was to provide a forum for Tribes served by the HHS Regional Offices to provide input on how to improve the HHS Tribal consultation process. The HHS Regions overlap the IHS Area Offices (see map below) so we had Tribes attending from our Oklahoma, Albuquerque, Aberdeen, and Nashville IHS Areas. This meeting was notable for the attendance of Michael Strautmanis, the Chief of Staff for Valerie Jarrett, who is the Senior Advisor to the President. Mr. Strautmanis provided opening remarks. Here is a picture from the meeting:
IHS is working very quickly to begin implementation of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) and is working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on implementation of provisions impacting Indian country. As you can imagine, we want to carefully review the new laws and determine next steps as quickly as possible. While some provisions go into effect immediately or easily, some will take more work. We also want to consult with Tribes in a meaningful way as quickly as possible.
We will be sending a letter to Tribes very soon with more information and a request for input. We will also post a copy of the letter and its attachments here. In addition, we want to reassure our Tribes that we are working quickly to make sure we are ready for this year’s 638 negotiations and know that there are provisions that provide new authorities that some Tribes are interested in including in their negotiations this year. Please be reassured that we are working as quickly as possible. We want things to move as fast as possible also, but we also want to take great care to get it right. We welcome any suggestions you may have for us.
We are also working on an outreach plan to help educate Indian country about these new laws and how they will potentially impact and benefit the people we serve. We will share information as soon as it is available.
Thank you as we work hard to implement these very important and historic laws. We will use this Blog as a way to post the latest information. Please check back regularly for updates.
I recently traveled to Oklahoma City to meet with the Tribes served by the Oklahoma IHS Area as a part of my goal to hold an in-person consultation session in all 12 IHS Areas. The Tribes presented their priority issues and made recommendations for how to improve our Tribal consultation process at the national, Area and local levels. Common priority issues included the need for more funding, especially in the Contract Health Services Program, self-governance issues, the joint venture program, and how to improve consultation. Here is a picture from the meeting:
I recently traveled to Albuquerque to meet with the Tribes served by the Albuquerque IHS Area as a part of my goal to hold an in-person consultation session in all 12 IHS Areas. The Tribes presented their priority issues and made recommendations for how to improve our Tribal consultation process at the national, Area and local levels. Common priority issues included the need for more funding, especially in the Contract Health Services Program, the 638 process, implementation of the IHCIA, customer service and how to improve consultation at the State and Federal levels/Area/Local levels. I also announced that the new Acting Area Director for Albuquerque Area will be RADM Ritchie Grinnell and that Dr. Thomas has chosen to return to the Chief Medical Officer position. We will re-advertise the Area Director position as soon as possible in consultation with Tribes. Here is a picture from the meeting:
I met with the Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee (DTLDC) during their quarterly meeting in Rockville MD, on 4/9/10. This group advises the IHS Director on activities related to diabetes in American Indians and Alaska Natives, with a focus on the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI). This group has existed for over 10 years and helps with consultations on the funding distribution for the SDPI. We discussed the need to clarify their purpose and role in the context of the overall agency plan for consultation. We also discussed the need for this group to help begin the consultation on the SDPI funding distribution if it is reauthorized to continue beyond FY2011. The group strongly believes that they are a model of an effective IHS consultation workgroup and that their members provide needed leadership and consultation in the area of diabetes. Here is a picture from the meeting:
I presented an IHS update at the National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) 2010 Annual Leadership Conference on 4/7/10. The group was excited about the recent passage of the IHCIA which provides additional authorities and updates for urban Indian health programs. In addition, the programs were excited about the passage of the health reform law, which could positively impact their programs in many ways. I reassured them that we were working quickly to implement the IHCIA and would give them updates on new information as soon as they are available. I requested input on how IHS will concur with urban Indian health programs moving forward. Here is a picture from the meeting:
Leadership from IHS met with the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Echohawk and his staff from the Department of Interior to discuss common issues and potential collaborations. We identified several areas for collaboration and acknowledged that improving health in Tribal communities can be addressed by new partnerships between our agencies. Here is a picture from the meeting:
I presented an IHS update at the recent 10th Annual Advances in Indian Health Conference in Albuquerque, NM on April 30, 2010. The purpose of this meeting is to provide continuing medical education and updates on quality care in the Indian health system. This meeting was remarkable because there were over 600 healthcare providers in attendance (a record I believe) and a really outstanding agenda on important clinical topics. Meetings like this help make sure we provide education and new information relevant to our health providers in the Indian health system so they can provide the highest quality of care to the patients we serve. Thank you to the organizers and all the speakers for a great conference. Here is a picture from the meeting:
I met with the Direct Service Tribes Advisory Committee (DSTAC) in person during their quarterly meeting in Albuquerque, NM, on 4/21/10. This group represents the Tribes who are served by health facilities and programs that are managed directly by the Indian Health Service (IHS). I provided an update on my priorities and on issues specific to the Direct Service Tribes. They had questions about the Office of Direct Service and Contracting Tribes in IHS Headquarters and also wanted an update on implementation of the health reform law and the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA). I reassured them that IHS was working as quickly as possible to implement the IHCIA and that we would provide new information as soon as it was available. Here’s a picture from the meeting: