Archive for the ‘U.S. Senate’ Category

Coburn: U.S. Indian Healthcare Bill "Morally Bankrupt"

February 29, 2008

The Albuquerque Journal is reporting that a bill designed to “boost programs at the federally funded Indian Health Service, prompt new construction and modernization of health clinics on reservations, and attempt to recruit more Indians into health professions…increase tribal access to Medicare and Medicaid….[and] authorize spending about $35 billion for Indian health care programs over the next 10 years” passed the Senate Tuesday, 83-10.

PhotobucketIt also, according to the Journal, “Contains a resolution sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) that would formally apologize to American Indians for centuries of government mistreatment. The resolution acknowledges a long history of government misconduct against Indians, including forced relocation from tribal lands, theft of tribal assets and the breaking of treaties and covenants.”

Indian Country writes:

The bill, at least eight years in the making and often a subject of exceptional controversy over issues that ranged from the narrowly medical and technical field to broad constitutional questions, provides up to $16 billion for Indian health care through the next five fiscal years. Just as importantly to its backers among tribes, the bill updates the responsiveness of tribes and the IHS in numerous priority areas, including cancer screening, diabetes treatment, disease prevention, youth suicide and mental health intervention, traditional approaches to healing and in-home health care, recruitment to the health profession as practiced in Indian country, and Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.

Pro-Life Groups are celebrating the amendment to the bill which will prevent tribal women from receiving abortions at taxpayer expense. CitizenLink quotes Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council:

I applaud the Senate for voting to prevent Indian Health Service funds from being used to pay for abortions. The majority of the Senate has now shown they agree with most Americans that government funding of abortion is morally wrong.

Nonetheless, Tom Coburn (R-OK) argued that the legislation does not address any real issues, and that the money may not even be there to pay for benefits promised. He called the legislation “morally bankrupt” and added it was like:

…Taking out a new loan on a car when you can’t afford food for your family…Why are we putting off fixing the system? So we could tell everyone that we did something when in fact we did nothing.

To become law, Jerry Reynolds reports,

The bill, S. 1200 in the Senate, awaits action in the House of Representatives. An identical version of it has passed the House Resources Committee and is now before the Energy and Commerce Committee.