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Indian Health Care Bill Approved by House Subcommittee

On November 7, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health approved, by voice vote, a bill (H.R. 1328) to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (P.L. 94-437) through FY2017, after adopting, also by voice vote, a substitute amendment by Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ). The Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved a similar measure in May (see The Source, 5/11/07).

H.R. 1328 would authorize grants to tribes and urban Indian organizations “to develop and implement a comprehensive behavioral health program of prevention, intervention, treatment, and relapse-prevention services that specifically address the cultural, historical, social, and child care needs of Indian women, regardless of age.” The grants could be used for community training, education, and psychological counseling to prevent and treat substance abuse among Indian women. A fetal alcohol disorder program also would be established to educate tribal members, and to develop prevention and treatment models.

The measure would authorize the development of a comprehensive behavioral health prevention and treatment program to encourage collaboration among alcohol and substance abuse, social services, and mental health programs. For children under the age of 17, behavioral health services would include the promotion of healthy choices with emphasis on the prevention of tobacco, alcohol, drug, and inhalant abuse, and preventing and treating mental disorders. An Indian youth telemental health demonstration project also would be established. For adults, including those 55 and older, these services would include the promotion of gender-specific healthy approaches related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and neglect.

Under the bill, grants would be authorized for the prevention and treatment of child abuse. Grantees would be encouraged to develop prevention, training, and education programs for urban Indians, and would provide outpatient treatment services to victims of child sexual abuse and perpetrators of the abuse who are Indian or members of an Indian household.

Finally, the measure would require the secretary for Health and Human Services, acting through the Indian Health Service or tribal health programs, to ensure that Indian women receive mammograms “at a frequency appropriate to such women under national standards.”

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