SEATTLE, WA – The Fiscal Year 2022 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies funding bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee at the beginning of July includes historic increases in funding for Urban Indian Health organizations and Tribal Epidemiology Centers. This increase came after Representative Smith (D-Wash.) and Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) led their colleagues in urging the Committee to increase funding for both programs.

“Urban Indian organizations, such as the Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB), play a pivotal role in providing health care for Native and non-Native communities across the country. They have been at the forefront of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting urban American Indians and Alaska Natives who are often marginalized in the traditional health care system,” said Congressman Smith. “This proposed increase in funding to urban Indian health organizations will strengthen clinics across the country, give them the tools to continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and eliminate disparities and inequities in the health care system. The proposed increase in funding to Tribal Epidemiology Centers, including the Urban Indian Health Institute at SIHB, is long overdue to expand research and disease surveillance to improve health outcomes in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.”

“After decades of underfunding for the Indian Health Service and urban Indian health, we are encouraged to see the House Appropriations Committee honoring its trust and treaty obligations to all Native people by proposing a necessary increase in resources for Indian Health Care Providers. Each year the Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup provides an estimated need to Congress and this year, for the first time ever, the House bill includes the full amount from that request for urban Indian health at $200.5 million. We are grateful to champions like Congressman Smith who have fought to ensure that all American Indians and Alaska Natives have access to health care regardless of where they live,” said Francys Crevier (Algonquin), CEO of the National Council of Urban Indian Health.

“Seattle Indian Health Board commends the House Appropriations Committee for the historic action to address the chronic underfunding of tribal and urban Indian communities. We look forward to working with our congressional champions to strengthen the federal trust and create a path to full funding for American Indian and Alaska Native health programs that honor the treaties and serve all Native peoples, regardless of where we reside.” said Esther Lucero (Diné), President & CEO of the Seattle Indian Health Board.

The FY 2022 House appropriations bill includes $200,548,000 in funding for the Urban Indian Health Program (UIHP), a $137,816,000 increase above last year’s funding. The bill also more than doubled the funding for Tribal Epidemiology Centers to $24 million. In April, Representative Smith led a letter with Representative Don Young (R-AK) requesting these increases in funding for the Urban Indian Health Program and Tribal Epidemiology Centers. You can read the letter here.

The Urban Indian Health Program (UIHP) serves communities by providing culturally attuned health care and human services, conducting data research, and collaborating with tribal, community, and federal partners. The UIHP has traditionally received less than one percent of IHS appropriations to provide health care and medical services to the 71% of the American Indian and Alaska Native population that live in urban areas.

Tribal Epidemiology Centers (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. TECs play a critical role in providing disease surveillance and technical assistance to tribal and urban Indian organizations.