Dear Chairman [Barton, Thomas and Pombo] and Ranking Member [Dingell, Rangel and Rahall]:
We are writing to urge you to expedite the Energy and Commerce Committee's review of legislation reauthorizing the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA). This bill is critical to improving the availability of quality health care to 1.8 million Native Americans throughout our nation.
As you may know, the health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives suffer from gross disparities in health care. Indeed, the unmet health needs of American Indians remain alarmingly severe. As a result, the health status of Native peoples is far below the health status of the general U.S. population.
Part of the problem is that American Indians and Alaskan Natives face considerable obstacles in accessing quality medical care. While, the federal government is duty bound to provide adequate and accessible health services as part of its historical and legal trust responsibility, it has failed to live up to this promise. As a result, Indian Country presently faces a health care crisis that appears to be worsening.
The first step to improve this situation is enacting HR 5312, a bill to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. With limited time remaining in the current Congressional session, we urge you to expedite the Committee's review of this important legislation and report it out favorably to the full House for consideration. Any further delay would undoubtedly setback the delivery of adequate health services to our country's first Americans.
Pallone was joined by U.S. Reps. Dale Kildee (D-MI), Mike Honda (D-CA), Hilda Solis (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), James Moran (D-VI), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Adam Smith (D-WA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Colin Peterson (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Stephanie Herseth (D-SD), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Ron Kind (D-WI), William Jefferson (D-LA), Don Payne (D-NJ), Dennis Moore (D-KS), John Conyers (D-MI), Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).