Today the House of Representatives passed H.R. 623, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land Transfer Act, by voice vote. This legislation was originally introduced by Alaskan Congressman Don Young and will direct the Department of Health and Human Services to transfer a 2.79 acre parcel of federal land located in Anchorage, Alaska, from the Indian Health Service (IHS) to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC). This bill will allow ANTHC to strengthen critical healthcare delivery for Alaska Natives by constructing a patient housing facility on the parcel. The patient housing facility will expand the Consortium's ability to offer health services to patients, particularly those that live in rural areas and villages that are unconnected to the road system.
"Many Alaskans living in rural communities travel long distances to receive medical care in Anchorage, but are unable to house themselves during their stay," Rep. Young said. "This land transfer will allow ANTHC to expand patient housing, maximize care by locating patients near the Medical Center and its resources, and reduce transportation and housing costs. It's a common sense solution that empowers ANTHC with the ability to develop the facility in accordance with the federal trust responsibility that ANTHC currently fulfills on behalf of the IHS. I am pleased that the House unanimously approved this legislation and I urge swift consideration and passage in the Senate."
ANTHC is a non-profit corporation headquartered in Anchorage that provides tribal healthcare services to thousands of patients in the region. Following House passage of H.R. 632, ANTHC released the following statement. "A heartfelt thank you to Congressman Young for balancing his priorities and efforts to include the health of Alaskans, and in this case, that of the Alaska Native community. This legislation provides for the transfer of land through a warranty deed to allow the Consortium to construct patient housing on the Alaska Native Health Campus to accommodate our people when they're required to travel to Anchorage for medical treatment, including our expectant mothers," said Andy Teuber, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Chairman and President. "We are very proud of this solution as it is designed to improve timely and affordable access to care for our people."
Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich have proposed companion legislation in the Senate, S. 235. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is currently slated to take up the legislation tomorrow.