Coalition Letter to Sen. Collins: Indian Health Care Improvement Act Reauthorization

October 22, 2007
Senator Susan Collins
413 Dirksen Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Collins,

As representatives of diverse religious faiths and beliefs, we write in support of the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), S. 1200. We believe that honoring federal trust obligations is a moral issue. There will be floor action very soon on reauthorization. We seek your vote for cloture.

IHCIA was passed in 1976 and signed by President Ford with the stated purpose of bringing the health status of Indian people up to par with the rest of society. The life span of Native peoples is six years shorter than the general population. Progress has been made toward parity, but since the Act has not been reauthorized for 15 years, the health status of Native people continues to be worse than for the general public. This disparity is partly due to deplorable health conditions, lack of access to medical care, and an out-dated health care delivery system.

The reauthorization bill sets the framework for program change and recruitment and retention of health professionals. In-home health care for the elderly, mental health treatment for youth at risk of suicide, chronic disease assistance for diabetes patients, and prevention and wellness activities are among the programs that can be provided or expanded if IHCIA is reauthorized.

S. 1200 has solid tribal and bi-partisan congressional support. Legislation came close to passage in the last two sessions of Congress. The Senate Finance Committee supported the bill unanimously last month. We need your support and your vote.


Church Women United

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Council of Jewish Women

National Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA

NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Presbyterian Church (USA) Washington Office

The Episcopal Church

Union for Reform Judaism

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society