WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski, Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, welcomed a commitment by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to bring the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to the Senate floor for debate and a vote later this year. The Indian Health Care Improvement Act was last authorized in 1992 and expired in 2001. Previous efforts to reauthorize the legislation, which governs the operation of the American Indian and Alaska Native health care delivery system, have failed in the Senate because time could not be found to debate the bill on the Senate floor. Senator Murkowski is a co-sponsor of S.1200, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act reauthorization bill in the current Congress. The bill passed out of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on May 10 and still must be considered in the Senate Finance Committee before it can come to the Senate floor. The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a September 12 markup of the bill. “The Indian Health Care Improvement Act is crucial to the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives,” said Senator Murkowski. “I welcome the Majority Leader’s commitment to finally give the full Senate the opportunity to support this legislation.” Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, joined by Senator Murkowski and Senator Ted Stevens, had introduced an amendment to the reauthorization of SCHIP that would have brought the Indian Health Care Improvement Act before the Senate this week. He withdrew the amendment after receiving a commitment by Majority Leader Reid to bring the legislation to the floor later this year. According to Indian Health Service statistics, American Indians and Alaska Natives die at higher rates than other Americans from tuberculosis, alcoholism, motor vehicle crashes, diabetes, unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide.