Indian Health Care in Peril

Federal budget for FY 2007 Would Eliminate Urban Indian Health Care Program

Pres. Bush has proposed that funding for the entire Urban Indian Health Care Program nationwide be ended in fiscal year 2007. The program’s budget is now $33 million, of which $3.5 million goes to the Seattle Indian Health Board, the largest urban Indian medical center in the country, which sees some 7000 patients per year. The Administration’s rationale for the cuts is that the services are duplicative, that Native Americans could easily receive care at community clinics serving the general population.

The urban Indian clinics were created to address the special cultural and psychosocial needs of their low-income Native American clients, who suffer disproportionately from serious health problems and risk factors with historical roots. Advocates point out that the community clinics of Seattle (and other cities ) are already stretched to their limits as the number of uninsured people grows steadily, so it is not safe to assume that they could fill the gap, let alone provide culturally appropriate services nor address logistical barriers to care. The budget cut would undo decades of progress that has been made in serving some of America’s most vulnerable people.

Background provided by Joelle Mauthe, Brazil 74-76, community health nurse at the Seattle Indian Health Board. SIHB counts among its staff other RPCVs in nutrition, social work, and medical residency programs.

Here are links to recent news articles from the Seattle Times and the Seattle P-I

Indian clinic’s budget number being called, again.

Clinic for Indians faces cut in funds

What you can do?: Contact your representatives in Congress and tell them not to cut the budget for the Urban Indian Health Care Program. Contact info: for Senators, and for Representatives. Congressional Switchboard 202-224-3121.