A bill that would give Indian health programs a long-delayed $52 million shot in the arm
was approved by the Senate Finance Committee on a voice vote despite objections from the
This bill provides critical funding and improvements to ensure that tribal members get
the quality healthcare that they deserve, Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said in a written
statement. The funding in this bill is sure to have a significant impact in native
The legislation would streamline reimbursement procedures, bolster outreach programs and
eliminate co-pays for patients of the Indian Health Service who rely on Medicare, Medicaid
and the State Childrens Health Insurance Program.
The bill would also allow Indian healthcare providers not currently licensed under state
and local laws to seek federal reimbursement and would require HHS to file annual reports
to Congress regarding the enrollment and health status of Indians who benefit from the
provisions in the act.
But in a letter signed by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and delivered to committee members
late Wednesday, the White House said it would seek several revisions to the bill,
including striking provisions that dictate reimbursement requirements and another that
exempts Indian Health Services and Tribal health programs from federal anti-kickback
Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who sponsored a
similar bill in the House, said he expects to finalize the bill in the coming months. --
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