Rep. Smith Leads Effort to Increase Funding for the Urban Indian Health Program and Tribal Epidemiology Centers
March 24, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) led 22 members in a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies requesting the highest possible funding be included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 appropriations bill for Tribal Epidemiology Centers (TECs) and the Urban Indian Health Program (UIHP). Rep. Smith co-led the letter with Reps. Mary Sattler Peltola (D-Alaska) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.). These organizations play a crucial role in providing health care for American Indian and Native communities across the country.
The members wrote, “UIHPs serve our communities by providing culturally attuned health care and human services, conducting data research, and collaborating with tribal, community, and federal partners. As this Subcommittee knows well, the UIHP has traditionally received less than one percent of IHS appropriations to provide a variety of health care and medical services to the 76% of the American Indian and Alaska Native population that live in urban areas. The highest possible funding level will allow the UIHP to adequately provide health care services to tribal citizens in our communities.”
“TECs conduct research used to identify the root causes of health disparities and improve data-driven health care decision making in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. They play a critical role in providing disease surveillance and technical assistance to tribal and urban Indian organizations. TECs need continued investment in order to maintain their success and un-replicated services. We are grateful for the much-needed increase in FY 2023; however, we still have a long way to go to build up research capabilities in tribal communities. In the FY 2024 appropriations bill, we request highest possible funding for the Tribal Epidemiology Centers program. This funding level would ensure TECs can conduct epidemiology and public health functions critical to the delivery of health care services for tribal and urban Indian communities,” the members continued.
The members concluded, “Increased funding for UIHPs and TECs is critical to strengthening our public health and primary care system.”
Read the full letter here.
Funding for the Urban Indian Health Program and Tribal Epidemiology Centers is vital for organizations like the Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) in Washington’s Ninth District. SIHB is a leader in providing health care and related services to disadvantaged communities across the region, especially urban American Indians and Alaska Natives. The Urban Indian Health Institute housed at SIHB is one of only 12 TECs across the country conducting research and collecting data to inform health services, programs, and policy.
Rep. Smith and the late Congressman Don Young led a similar effort last year that resulted in a historic increase for the Urban Indian Health Program budget to $90.4 million and a $10 million increase for Tribal Epidemiology Centers, which was included in the Fiscal Year 2023 government funding bill signed into law by President Biden.