INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE: Budget Cut Could Hurt Outreach
Despite an overall increase in funding for the Indian Health Service included in President Clinton's budget proposal, officials from the agency are protesting a $5 million proposed cut for a program that helps tribal members work as liaisons "between their communities and health care professionals." The Billings Gazette reports that if the provision is enacted, funding for the liaison program would drop 11%, from $45.9 million in FY 1999 to $40.9 million in FY 2000. The liaisons, or representatives, visit homes, organize transportation and identify community health needs. "We believe this is a significant reduction because this program has not been able to keep up with population growth. If the cut is approved by Congress, it would be distributed evenly across all tribes. But if you're a small tribe, any cut is going to be substantial," said June Tracey, a policy analyst for the Indian Health Service. Edward Parisian, health board CEO for Montana's Rocky Boy reservation, called the liaison program "one of the critical components of health care. The impact of this would mean less representatives in the program to provide prevention and health education services. We're gearing up to change the mind of Congress on the issue and get more dollars rather than less." The Billings Gazette notes that the total budget proposed for the Indian Health Service in FY 2000 jumped 8%, from $2.2 billion to $2.4 billion (Kapadia, 2/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.