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Bush Veto Threat Looms over Indian Health Care

February 11, 2008

Bismarck, ND – Federal healthcare policy on American Indian reservations hasn't been updated in eight years, but that could change this week, as the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) comes up for a vote in the U.S. Senate. The bill's cosponsor, North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, says the Bush Administration objected to portions of the bill.

"The President had threatened a veto, but I think we've worked out most of things that were concerning the White House."

Dorgan emphasizes the need to address the $1 billion backlog in vital health care improvements for tribal communities. The IHCIA includes expanded scholarship and loan programs to encourage Native Americans to enter healthcare professions, and help for tribal communities to address the alarming suicide rate among Indian youth.

"We have clusters of teen suicides on a number of Indian reservations. We authorized a new teen suicide program."

Dorgan says among the Administration's objections are labor provisions in the bill that would require "prevailing local wages" be paid on government-funded projects.

Dick Layman/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - ND