WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Vice-Chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, today urged passage of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments of 2007. The legislation would reauthorize and update the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which governs the operation of the American Indian and Alaska Native health care delivery system. The Senate will resume consideration of the bill on Monday, February 25.

“This bill is intended to bring new hope for Indian health, to provide American Indians and Alaska Natives with a level of health care services that is at least on par with what other Americans enjoy,” said Senator Murkowski. “Their needs have been neglected for far too long. I am looking forward to the day when we can proudly fulfill our duty to our nation’s First People.”

“Much has been done to improve Alaska Native health care in the past decade. It is now the best of its kind in the nation,” said Senator Stevens. “However, Native health leaders from across our state have told me this legislation is critical because it contains new provisions to aid delivery of health care and services to all Native people. I urge my colleagues in Congress to get this bill to the President as soon as possible.” The Indian Health Care Improvement Act was last authorized in 1992. The bill takes a comprehensive approach to improving Indian health care, including: • Increasing the number of Indians entering health professions, • Authorizes the Indian Health Care Improvement Fund to address backlogs in health care services to Indians, • Authorizes Facilities Construction, • Addresses Social Security Act provisions, • Authorizes a variety of health services for urban Indians, • Makes organizational improvements within the Indian Health Services, and • Authorizes a variety of behavioral health programs.