U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Indian Health Service: The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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National Health Reform

May 29, 2009 email inviting all IHS employees to submit views on National Health Reform

From: Roubideaux, Yvette (IHS/HQE)
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2009 9:54 AM
To: IHS - IHS ALL
Subject: Message from the Director - Health Reform

As many of you know, the debate over national health reform is in full swing, and comprehensive health reform legislation may be introduced in Congress as early as June. While a number of options are being discussed, it appears that some of the changes under consideration - for example, those related to access to health insurance options and provider reimbursement - could affect the components of the Indian health system, including IHS-operated, Tribal and urban Indian health programs, in a variety of ways.

In the context of the ongoing effort to enact national health reform, one of my priorities is to bring reform to the Indian Health Service. As I have mentioned, I believe it is clear that, in order for IHS to gain the support it needs, we must demonstrate a willingness to change and improve. I am confident that we can work together to discuss how we can further our mission by improving how we do business and provide health care, including large-scale system changes that may take time to develop as well as smaller solutions that we can implement immediately. And I know there are exciting success stories within individual programs and facilities that can we can consider applying on a system-wide basis. I am looking forward to consulting with Tribes and gathering input from you on how we can reform and improve the Indian Health Service, and I know many of you are anxious to begin that conversation.

I want to be sure to distinguish between the internal reform we need to bring to IHS over the coming months and the broader system reform currently under consideration in Congress. The President shares my goal of having the Indian health system at the table as part of that broader debate. With that in mind, I am partnering with HHS’s Offices of Intergovernmental Affairs and Health Reform to plan for Secretary Sebelius to issue a formal call for Tribal consultation on this issue as quickly as possible. This will allow the Department to hear from Tribes as it engages on this legislation. I am also proud of the efforts that are already underway at the Tribal level and to discuss and make recommendations on national health reform.

In addition, I would like to hear from you about your thoughts and recommendations with respect to national health reform, and what ideas should be included in the reform effort in order to expand access to coverage and quality of care for our patients. You can read about many of the issues currently being debated at www.healthreform.gov. I would encourage you to send your ideas and comments to HealthReform@IHS.GOV by June 30, 2009.

Finally, as I mentioned, our next priority will be to have a conversation about how to bring internal reform to the Indian Health Service. This, too, will involve both Tribal consultation and your input. You can be assured that this work will begin soon, and that I will keep you fully updated at each stage of the process. All of these efforts will us help further fulfill our obligation to elevating the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives by improving access to and quality of care for our patients. Thank you and I look forward to hearing your input.

Yvette

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