Kathleen Sebelius: Tribes Find Assistance in Recovery Act



Tribes Find Assistance in Recovery Act



The Cheyenne River Sioux’s Eagle Butte Health Center (South Dakota) is nearing completion, with assistance from the Recovery Act.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Indian Health Service.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius established the Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC) to advise the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on its government-to-government relationship and delivery of services to Tribal communities. At the STAC’s first meeting in Washington, D.C., the Tribal representatives heard about American Recovery and Reinvestment Act programs for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN).

The Recovery Act empowered HHS to help jump-start the economy, maintain health care services, expand access to affordable health care, protect those in greatest need and provide for the early care and education of young children and create or save jobs. As part of its Recovery Act mandate, HHS provided more than $700 million for programs to specially assist Tribal communities. As presented to the STAC, the following are highlights of HHS Recovery Act funding benefiting AI/AN people.

Indian Health Service

The Recovery Act provided $500 million through the Indian Health Service (IHS) for the construction of priority health care facilities, building maintenance and improvement, water and wastewater sanitation projects, the purchase of critical medical equipment and health information technology (IT). IHS also administers another $90 million in Recovery Act funds from the Environmental Protection Agency for sanitation projects. Recovery Act funding supports two major hospital construction projects and more than 1,200 other projects, allowing IHS to make deep inroads in the backlog of essential maintenance and repairs of health and sanitation facilities. For example:

  • $227 million funds the replacement of two hospitals with state-of-the-art facilities: the Cheyenne River Sioux’s Eagle Butte Health Center (South Dakota) and the Norton Sound Regional Hospital (Nome, Alaska). The Eagle Butte Health Center will employ ground source heat pumps, saving 60 percent of the energy consumed by conventional heating and cooling systems. The new Nome hospital will serve 10,000 Alaska Natives spread out over 44,000 square miles.
  • As a result of Recovery Act funds, 30,000 AI/AN homes will have safe drinking water and adequate waste disposal facilities.

Health Information Technology

HHS plans to improve quality of health care and increase efficiency through the expansion and meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs).

  • IHS administers $85 million to extend and update health IT at more than 400 IHS and Tribal facilities so they can comply with Federal standards and receive Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive payments.
  • The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT awarded $15.6 million to the National Indian Health Board to create a Regional Extension Center to assist 3,000 primary care providers in qualifying for Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive payments. These providers serve AI/AN people at 594 health care facilities.

Communities Putting Prevention to Work

Three Tribes were among 44 communities that received Recovery Act funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s signature prevention program, Communities Putting Prevention to Work:

  • The Cherokee Nation Health Service Group (Oklahoma) received $2.1 million to fight obesity and tobacco use with farm-to-school programs, physical education and tobacco cessation programs.
  • The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council (Wisconsin) received $1 million to bring tobacco prevention and control activities to five Tribes.
  • The Pueblo of Jemez Health and Human Services Department (New Mexico) received $900,000 to promote increased physical activity, encourage healthy food choices and support the local growers market.

Other HHS Programs

  • $50 million for the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) Head Start programs, of which $34.7 million was for expansion of Early Head Start for 23 Tribal grantees to serve 1,274 children over two years, including:
    • $2.7 million for the Gila River Indian Community to expand Early Head Start and provide services for 92 children.
    • $2.6 million to the Tanana Chiefs Conference to provide services for 140 children.
  • $40 million in ACF Child Care and Development Fund assistance to 259 Tribes and Tribal organizations to expand access to safe and quality child care and improve services.
  • $19.6 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration for 25 Tribal and Urban Indian Health Centers to create new access sites, meet increased demand for services and fund construction. For example:
    • The Seldovia Village Tribe (Alaska) received $2.7 million for construction of health center facilities and increased demand for services.
    • Bristol Bay Area Health (Alaska) and the Native American Community Health Center (Arizona) each received $1.3 million for health services at new sites.
  • $14.2 million in Recovery Act funds under the ACF Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program went to 26 Tribes to help members hit hard by the economic recession. More than $3.5 million in TANF funds went to subsidized employment programs at eight Tribes, including $817,000 for the Spokane Tribe of Indians and $661,000 for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
  • $6.7 million in ACF Community Services Block Grant funds went to 49 Tribes to help low-income people become self-sufficient.
  • $3 million from the Administration on Aging was awarded to 244 Tribal organizations for meals and nutrition services for their elderly members.



For more information about the Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Council, go to http://www.hhs.gov/intergovernmental/tribal/. 



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