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January 17, 2024: IHS Updates for Tribes and Tribal and Urban Indian Organizations

This bi-weekly update provides up to date information on recent events, meetings, conferences, upcoming deadlines, and recognition of the work being done across the Indian Health Service, other federal agencies, and Indian Country. For more information or questions, email

IHS Funding Opportunities Support Tribal Self-Governance Planning and Negotiation Activities

Funding opportunities for the fiscal year 2024 Tribal Self-Governance Planning and the Negotiation Cooperative Agreements administered by the Office of Tribal Self-Governance are available and published in the Federal Register. The application deadline for both is February 19. These annual IHS cooperative agreement awards support tribes and tribal organizations with the planning and preparation necessary to assume responsibility for providing health care to tribal members through the Tribal Self-Governance Program. To learn more, read the recent IHS announcement.

IHS Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

The IHS issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing the removal of outdated regulations appearing in the Code of Federal Regulations. In 1982, IHS published regulations imposing restrictions on the use of IHS funding for certain abortions in order to be consistent with a provision in the annual appropriations act, sometimes referred to as the “Hyde Amendment,” and to conform IHS practice to that of the rest of HHS. Since then, Congress has repeatedly revised annual restrictions related to the use of certain federal funds for abortions. Congress also enacted 25 U.S.C. 1676 in 1988, which made the Hyde Amendment applicable to IHS.

Because the IHS regulations do not align with the current text of the Hyde Amendment or with 25 U.S.C. 1676, IHS seeks to remove these outdated, potentially confusing regulations in their entirety. Doing so will align IHS regulations with statute. IHS practice will remain unchanged and consistent with the statute and Circular 22-15. You can learn more about the proposed changes here. Comments are due by March 8.

HHS Announces Tribal Consultation on Draft Tribal Data Policy

HHS invites tribal leader feedback and recommendations on its draft HHS Tribal and Tribal Epidemiology Center Data Access (TTDA) Policy. The policy outlines the types of data to be made available to tribes and tribal epidemiology centers acting in their capacities as public health authorities. It also serves to establish HHS-wide expectations for divisions responding to tribal and TEC data requests covered by the policy, including through the development of division-specific implementation protocols. The draft TTDA Policy was developed based on extensive tribal input received during HHS consultations held in October 2022, as well as internal analyses of division data system requirements and legal considerations. Comments are welcome on all aspects of the draft policy. HHS is also specifically requesting tribal feedback on a series of questions posed in the Dear Tribal Leader Letter announcing the consultation. HHS invites tribal leaders to provide input and feedback on the draft policy during a Zoom session on February 6 from 3:00-5:00 pm ET (Call-in: 669-254-5252. Meeting ID: 161-416-1119.) Written comments are also due by March 5.

Enclosed: Dear Tribal Leader Letter and Draft HHS TTDA Policy

Community Opioid Intervention and Prevention Program

The Division of Behavioral Health is pleased to announce the Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Community Opioid Intervention and Prevention Program. The purpose of this grant program is to address the opioid crisis in American Indian and Alaska Native communities by:

  1. Developing and expanding community education and awareness of prevention, treatment, and recovery activities for opioid misuse and opioid use disorder; 
  2. Increasing knowledge and use of culturally appropriate interventions and to encourage an increased use of medication-assisted treatment/medications for opioid use disorder;
  3. Supporting tribal and urban Indian communities in their effort to provide prevention, treatment, and recovery services to address the impact of the opioid crisis; and 
  4. Increasing harm reduction within tribal communities.

Tribes and urban Indian organizations can apply by February 7. The full notice is available here

Tribal Consultation Sessions to Focus on the Draft IHS Tribal Consultation Policy

On Nov. 27, 2023 the co-chairs of the IHS Director’s Advisory Workgroup on Tribal Consultation initiated tribal consultation on which definition of “Indian Tribe” to use in the updated IHS Tribal Consultation Policy. On July 26, 2023, the IHS shared the updated policy and provided a redline version that captures all proposed changes, as well as a clean version that incorporates all proposed changes into an updated Draft IHS Tribal Consultation Policy. We are hosting several virtual tribal consultation sessions to seek input and recommendations on the definition of “Indian Tribe” that should be included in the updated policy. Tribal representatives are encouraged to register in advance for the remaining virtual tribal consultation sessions.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 17 from 3:30–5:00 p.m. ET
  • Thursday, Jan. 18 from 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET

Written comments and recommendations are due by Friday, Feb. 23, to – Subject line: DEFINITION OF INDIAN TRIBE.

CMO Makes Call for Action to Promote Vaccinations During Respiratory Viral Season

The 2023-2024 respiratory viral season is in full-swing and rising rates of seasonal influenza, COVID, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are adversely impacting tribal communities. In her IHS All email on December 27, IHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Loretta Christensen made a call to action for our federal, tribal, and urban programs to intensify efforts to promote vaccination in our tribal communities as we seek to protect our vulnerable service population during this respiratory viral season. National immunization coverage rates for influenza, COVID-19, and RSV are currently low for both children and adults. IHS, tribal, and urban Indian health care providers are urged to offer influenza, COVID-19, and RSV immunizations now to eligible patients.

Countermeasures including the seasonal influenza vaccine, the 2023-2024 monovalent COVID vaccine, RSV vaccine for elders, and nirsevimab, the RSV immunization for infants and toddlers, are all readily available. Please join us now in advocating a proactive approach to immunization as we seek to mitigate the risk of vaccine-preventable respiratory viral disease in Indian Country. I want to echo Dr. Christensen’s message of confidence that together, we can protect our people across the age spectrum from the combined risk of seasonal influenza, COVID, and RSV.

Mid-Atlantic Tribes See Expansion in Purchased/Referred Care Delivery Area

On December 26, the IHS published the Purchased/Referred Care Delivery Area expansion notice for the seven Mid-Atlantic Tribes in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This includes the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, Chickahominy Indian Tribe-Eastern Division, Monacan Indian Nation, Nansemond Indian Tribe, Pamunkey Indian Tribe, Rappahannock Tribe, and Upper Mattaponi Tribe. The expansion includes counties and cities in Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina and increases the tribes’ PRC eligible population by 1,006 members. For more information, view the notice in the Federal Register.

The IHS also published the PRCDA expansion notice for the Spokane Tribe of Indians in the state of Washington. The Spokane Tribe’s PRCDA now includes the counties of Spokane and Whitman and increases the tribe’s PRC eligible population by 480 members.  For more information, view the Federal Register.

IHS Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Speaks on Sovereignty at Harvard

On January 11, IHS Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Affairs Stacey Ecoffey (Oglala Lakota) spoke to students enrolled in the Native Americans in the 21st Century Nation Building class at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. For more than 20 years, the Kennedy School has connected Nation Building students with Indian Country by allowing students’ research and the expertise of Harvard faculty to benefit outside agencies, tribes, and tribal organizations through project-based case studies. Ecoffey joined Attorney Jennifer Weddle (Northern Cheyenne) on a panel entitled “Sovereignty Fighters” to discuss goals, impediments, and the means to support tribal sovereignty, self-determination, capacity, and well-being. “I’m grateful to the Kennedy School for the opportunity to discuss our current efforts to strengthen our relationships with tribes and to support tribal self-governance,” Ecoffey said.

Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee Meetings

(Left to Right) Professor Joe Kalt, Professor Jennifer Weddle, Stacey Ecoffey, and Angela Riley

Division of Nursing Services Announces Changes to the Nurse Recognition Program for 2024

Beginning in 2024, the Division of Nursing Services Nurse of the Month recognition program will shift to a quarterly program with two nomination categories. The two categories include distinguished nursing practice, focused on nurses in a direct clinical care role, and excellence in nursing leadership for nurses in roles such as administration, quality, and consultant. DNS is accepting nominations for the 2024 Nurses of the Quarter through February 15, with the nomination instructions and forms found here.

EMSC Program Site Visit Aims to Help with Completing Pediatric Readiness Assessment

The IHS EMSC Hybrid Simulation Program consultants completed a site visit to the Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility to engage staff of the emergency department and inpatient unit in pediatric emergency care simulation training. The staff worked with their local pediatric emergency care coordinator and academic medical center partner from Phoenix Children’s Hospital to share best practices and resources and to complete a Pediatric Readiness Assessment. The Chinle facility has been part of the program for three years, improving pediatric readiness throughout its facility to enhance the capability of providing high-quality care during pediatric emergencies. A higher level of pediatric readiness in EDs is associated with decreased morbidity and mortality in critically ill and injured children, regardless of trauma designation. To learn more about the collaborative work with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the IHS EMSC Hybrid Simulation Program, contact DNS Nurse Consultant Ardith Aspaas.

Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee Meetings
Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee Meetings

IHS Scholarship Program

The IHS continuously strives to develop our next generation of leaders, as well as help make the pursuit of a meaningful career in Indian health attainable for American Indian and Alaska Native students. To support those efforts, the IHS Scholarship Program is currently accepting applications for the 2024-2025 academic year. The IHS Scholarship Comparison Chart shows a list of eligible degree programs. Eligible students are encouraged to apply by February 28. Please continue to share this widely with your networks, including with parents or students who may be interested in this great opportunity.

Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee Meetings

Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah Hosts Ribbon Cutting for New Health Center

The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah entered into self-governance with an executed compact on January 1, 2022. They were a FY2020 IHS Small Ambulatory Program funding awardee of $2 million, which contributed to the design and construction of the Four Points Health Center in Cedar City, Utah. The grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for their new clinic took place on December 14, 2023, and Phoenix Area Deputy Director Rear Adm. Michael Weahkee attended the celebration and toured the new clinic.

Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee Meetings

Claremore Indian Hospital Assists Highway Patrol with Rescue Naloxone

The Claremore Indian Hospital has developed a collaborative relationship with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. OHP reached out after their supply chain for rescue dose naloxone was unable to provide additional doses. George Valliere, CEO, met with Captain Jack Choate, OHP, and provided rescue naloxone for immediate use in the field. This will ensure that the officers, who are first responders, have access to this important opioid overdose reversal medication.

Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee Meetings

Telebehavioral Health Center of Excellence

The Telebehavioral Health Center of Excellence Tele-Education Program is hosting the following training for health care providers:

  • “Behavioral Health Integration Webinar Series: Provider Roles: Changing the Way We Practice” on January 25 at 12 p.m. ET. Register here.

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