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President’s Proposed FY 2009 Budget for Indian Health Service Adds Funds for Important Services
The proposed budget authority of $3.325 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS) for fiscal year 2009 reflects the priorities of American Indian and Alaska Native people served by the IHS and the commitment of the federal government to meeting their health care needs.
“The IHS budget is developed in consultation with American Indian and Alaska Native tribal leaders and representatives, who play an important role in the annual formulation and prioritization of the IHS budget and health priority focus,” said Robert McSwain, IHS acting director. “This budget reflects the impact of the department’s tribal budget consultations and a continuing federal government commitment to provide for the health of members of federally recognized tribes.”
This budget request prioritizes the provision of clinical and preventive health care services, particularly in American Indian and Alaska Native communities on or near reservations. An increase of $20 million over the IHS fiscal year 2008 enacted budget level is included for the operation of hospitals and health clinics. Also included are increases of $2 million for dental services and $2 million for preventive health services.
The proposed budget also includes $25 million to fund additional staff and associated operating costs related to the expansion of access to health care through newly constructed or expanded health facilities.
The President’s proposal also requests an increase of $9 million, for a total of $588 million, in contract health service funds, which are used to purchase health care that IHS cannot economically provide through its own network. A portion of the total amount will be set aside for catastrophic or high-cost cases.
The IHS budget includes $150 million for diabetes prevention and treatment grants. The IHS has awarded $850 million in grants over the past 6 years to over 300 tribes and Indian organizations to support diabetes prevention and disease management at the local level.
The IHS, an agency in the Department of Health and Human Service, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 1.9 million of the nation’s estimated 3.3 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. The IHS strives for maximum tribal involvement in meeting the needs of its service population, most of whom live on or near reservations and in rural communities in 35 states, mostly in the western United States and Alaska.