Murkowski’s Approps Work Wins Alaska Health Care Jobs, Reverses Administration’s Shortchanging of Alaska Natives

FY2014 Interior Appropriations Budget Fully Funds Alaska Native Health Needs After Lengthy Struggle

Senator Lisa Murkowski today is pleased to share the results of her negotiations with Congressional Appropriations Committee members on the newly-released 2014 Department of Interior budget, in particular the result of her year-long battle waged with the Administration to fully fund the operations costs of tribally managed hospitals and clinics, and fully fund the staffing packages for six new health facilities across Alaska. Senator Murkowski is the top Republican on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, and was able to leverage her position to assure the government will fulfill the Nation’s trust responsibility with its first peoples in the delivery of health care.

(Murkowski explains importance of contract support costs and staffing packages – CLICK to watch)

“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 told them to do in the Ramah case: fully fund Alaska Native hospital operations and ensure the adequate delivery of health care to Alaska Natives,” said Murkowski.  “But no, the Administration defied the Supreme Court and planned to cap the funding amounts without consulting with tribes or Congress. The Republican-led response was to remove the caps through this budgeting process so that tribes may continue to rightfully receive what is owed in the operation of hospitals and clinics.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling that the federal government must fully fund the contract support costs and staffing for native health centers nationwide, the Obama Administration has consistently paid only a fraction of the total amount.  This has led to Alaska Native health facilities frequently sitting partially empty, as they cannot hire technicians or assistants to deliver health care.

As negotiations advanced in recent weeks, Senator Murkowski – as the lead Senate Republican negotiator – worked with House and Senate appropriators to reject the Administration’s attempt to ignore the legal requirement to fully fund the operational costs of tribally run hospitals and clinics. Murkowski is the top Republican on the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, setting the agenda and funding levels for the departments and programs within the Department of Interior, and was positioned to make this change on behalf of Alaska Natives and indigenous peoples nation-wide.

In addition to ensuring that full contract support costs will be paid to tribes to operate facilities, 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.