ICYMI: Vice Chairman Murkowski Secures Senate Passage of Four Bills to Improve Alaska Native Communities

Better Health Care Services, Increased Protections for Native Children, & More Economic Development Opportunities

The Senate recently approved eight bills that were passed by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, sending them to the House of Representatives. Four of the eight bills are led by Vice Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), including one bill that extends the reporting deadline for the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children, as well as three bills that will improve delivery of healthcare services in Alaska Native communities through federal land transfers.

The Senate passed the following bills that were introduced by Senator Murkowski:

  • S. 325, A bill to amend the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act to extend the deadline for a report by the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children, and for other purposes;
  • S. 548, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land Transfer Act of 2021;
  • S. 549, A bill to provide for the conveyance of certain property to the Tanana Tribal Council located in Tanana, Alaska, and for other purposes; and
  • S. 550, the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Land Transfer Act of 2021.

“I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for advancing these eight Committee bills, including four bills that I introduced. I now hope the House of Representatives will move quickly to consider and approve these measures,” said Vice Chairman Murkowski. “Alaska Native communities, specifically those served by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Tanana Tribal Council, and Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, are seeking to improve their health care services to their communities through this important legislation. Without them, these communities cannot expand or replace outdated healthcare facilities or have control and ownership over improvements made to their facilities and land while under Department of Health and Human Services title. My fourth bill extends the reporting deadline for the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tribal communities will see better healthcare services, increased protections for Native children, and more economic development opportunities when Congress passes these bills.”

Murkowski is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. 

“The extension of time for the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Sobolof Commission on Native Children is essential to ensure a complete and thoughtful response to Congress' charge to the Commission, which has experienced extensive delays due to procedural issues and the pandemic. The Commission has faced the challenges of COVID-19 by moving to virtual work for meetings and scheduling several hearings with experts whose testimony will be able to inform its work when the Commission finally gets to the communities to hear from the people themselves, which have been closed for the last 15 months.  However, there is still much research to gather, testimony to hear, and a minimum of five hearings in the community to implement, as required by the legislation, which will require additional time as provided for in S. 325. This broad systems-wide report will provide recommendations to Congress and the President to improve outcomes for our Native children, from birth to age 24.  The Commission is grateful for the Senate's support for this important effort.”

-Gloria O’Neill, Chair of the Commission 

“Quyana (thank you) to Senator Murkowski for her efforts in moving this legislation forward. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land Transfer Act of 2021 furthers ANTHC’s mission to provide the highest quality health services in partnership with our people and the Alaska Tribal Health System. This legislation strengthens our ability to deliver critical health equipment and infrastructure to communities across the state in a timely and efficient manner.” 

-Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davison, Interim President, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

“The Tanana Tribal Council has been waiting for years to have this land transferred.  After the closure of the Native hospital in 1981, the Native Village of Tanana began the process of applying for this very sacred land. The hospital was utilized by many people from all across Alaska. People were born in the hospital and people passed in the hospital.  Today our people need healing and the goal and vision of our Tribe is to provide a treatment program for our people. We thank Senator Murkowski and our Congressional delegation for making sure this land transfer is accomplished.”

-Julie Roberts-Hysop, the Tanana Tribal Council 2nd Chief and acting Executive Director

“The future of healthcare depends on expanding access to medical services.SEARHC looks forward to improving the health and well-being of Southeast Alaskans with the service expansion and infrastructure improvements enabled by S.550, thanks to the support of Senator Murkowski and other state and federal leaders in the contingency.”

-Charles Clement, President & CEO of SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARCH)


Related Issues: Alaska Natives & Rural Alaska