Murkowski Success Finalized on Alaska Native Care, Hundreds of Jobs Statewide

Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service Release Official 2014 Funding Levels and End Years of Shortchanging Contracts and Provide Necessary Staffing Resources

WASHINGTON, D.C. — For years, Senator Lisa Murkowski has urged the federal government to follow through on its trust responsibility to America's first people and provide the necessary - and legally-required - resources to attend to their medical needs nationwide.   Murkowski today is pleased to see the funding levels, or 'operating plans' of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service reflect her success in the Interior Appropriations Committee in rejecting the injustice of shortchanging contract supports costs and include the needed funds for staffing packages at native health care facilities nationwide -- including the six new Alaska Native health facilities statewide.

Senator Murkowski serves as the top Republican on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, and was able to leverage her position among Congressional Appropriations leadership last month to assure the government must fulfill the financial obligation that the Supreme Court confirmed was required via its Ramah decision.  Today's release of the BIA and IHS operations plans marks the official culmination of her effort.

“I feel like I have been in a fight with this administration, just to get them to do the right thing and what the Supreme Court compelled them to do in the Ramah decision: fully fund Alaska Native hospital operations, ensure the adequate delivery of health care to Alaska Natives and fill hundreds of medical positions throughout Alaska,” said Murkowski.  “Today’s funding levels lock in this success for Alaska for the 2014 fiscal year. Imagine if a member of our military or a federal contractor received their check and found they were being paid 70 cents on the dollar – we wouldn’t accept that and I couldn’t accept the second-class treatment of our first people’s medical needs.”

(Murkowski “incredulous” over White House refusal to fully fund contracts, staffing – click image to watch statement – November 2013)

Senator Murkowski was also able to secure $66.2M for Alaska’s facilities requested for the staffing of these facilities. “This means jobs in our rural communities and that health disparities facing Alaska Native people can be addressed,” said Senator Murkowski.

• Southcentral Foundation, $1l.2M

• Norton Sound, $8.4M

• Tanana Chiefs, $20.1M

• Barrow, $12.5M

• Copper River, $3.5M

• Kenaitze, $10.6M 

Senator Lisa Murkowski’s work is supported by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Arctic Slope Native Association, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, and the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium.

For more information on Senator Murkowski’s work on contract support costs and staffing levels, read:

• Alaska Public Radio: Federal Spending Package Secures Funds For Tribal Health Care Facilities

• Mat-Su Frontiersman: Funding Will Beef Up Operations at Valley Native Primary Care Center

• Washington Post: Spending Bill Directs Government to Pay Indian Contracts