Today, as the United States combats the global novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced the CDC Tribal Public Health Security and Preparedness Act.
This legislation would allow Tribes to apply directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public health emergency preparedness (PHEP) program and authorizes the CDC to make any necessary modifications to the program to fit the needs of Tribal applicants. The CDC PHEP grant program seeks to increase the capacity and response timelines of local public health entities during public health emergencies. States, territories, and some U.S. cities are eligible to apply for the PHEP program, but Tribes are currently ineligible.
"We need to ensure that Tribes have the same access to resources as everyone else to face down public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Indian Health Service serves as the primary federal agency charged with providing healthcare in Indian Country, all federal agencies -- including the CDC -- share equally in the requirement to fulfill our trust and treaty obligations," said Udall. "This new legislation will improve Tribal access to federal resources meant to help communities better prepare for public health emergencies. As vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I will continue to push Congress and the Administration to make sure Indian Country has access to federal public health resources it needs and that there is meaningful engagement with Native communities and Tribal leaders in our national response to COVID-19."