Monday, December 22, 2008

Policy papers on the Indian Health Service and affordable housing now available from EPPN

At long last, the website of the Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) includes some papers I wrote while interning there this past summer. Among EPPN's many other wonderful resources are informative background papers on policy issues that the group has worked on. Although all papers are attributed to the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations, I wrote the new papers about affordable housing and the Indian Health Service (IHS). Here is an excerpt from the latter:

For over two centuries, large discrepancies in health have existed between American Indians and the rest of the nation. Mortality rates for diabetes, tuberculosis, cervical cancer, pneumonia, influenza, SIDS, and alcoholism are all significantly higher among Indians than the general population. Because of the federal government’s special trust relationship with Indian tribes, the United States has an obligation to provide for Indian health. Since its creation in 1954, the Indian Health Service (IHS) has successfully raised Indian life expectancy by 8 years and significantly reduced the rate of many diseases. Unfortunately, if current health conditions are to be improved, IHS will need both large funding increases and a serious administrative overhaul....

In order to erase the discrepancy between Indian health and that of the rest of the country, the Episcopal Church supports dramatic increases in IHS funding, expanding IHS services, and extending IHS authorizations. Legislation accomplishing most of these goals has been introduced in Congress every year since 2001 but none has passed. In the 110th Congress (2007-2008), that legislation is the Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments of 2008. Although it is unlikely that Congress will vote on this bill in 2008, it has come closer to passage than any similar legislation since 2000. It is hoped that similar legislation will pass the 111th Congress (2009-2010).

The full paper includes detailed numbers about specific diseases and their historical causes, more information about how IHS works, and what specficially the proposed legislation would do.

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