Tucson, Ariz. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today said he’s pleased the Heroes Act, the newly unveiled House Democratic plan to improve public health and support the American people through the coronavirus pandemic, includes $24 billion in funding for tribal governments and tribal organizations. Grijalva is an original cosponsor of the measure and has committed to voting for it later this week.
The money, Grijalva said, is long overdue in Indian Country and for urban Native communities, where the Trump administration’s incompetent response to the coronavirus pandemic has failed to improve limited health care infrastructure and has left tribal nations at the mercy of high coronavirus mortality rates. Doctors Without Borders sent a team of medical and sanitation experts to the Navajo Nation earlier this week, and the organization has been assisting Pueblo communities in New Mexico since mid-April.
“Tribal assistance funding in the Heroes Act makes it possible for Native communities to begin to address the damage the president’s negligence has caused, and I’m proud to have pushed for its inclusion,” Grijalva said. “The federal government has a legal obligation to support health care for tribal nations and improve the lives of their citizens, and the Trump administration has openly ignored that obligation in a crisis. Doctors Without Borders should not have to do the work this administration refuses to do. The loss of life, the separation of families, and the economic damage inflicted on Indian Country could have all been limited with a more competent federal response. The human cost of President Trump’s failure will mark him with a shame that will long outlast his presidency.”
The Heroes Act includes each of these tribal provisions:
Coronavirus Relief Fund: Tribal FiscalRelief – $20 billion in funding to assist tribal governments with the fiscal impacts of the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus. The bill clarifies that only federally recognized tribal governments are eligible for payments in CARES and the Heroes Act.
Indian Health Service – $2.1 billion to address health care needs related to coronavirus for Native Americans, including:
- $1 billion to account for lost third party revenues as a result of reduced medical care.
- $64 million to assist Urban Indian Organizations.
- $10 million to assist with sanitation, hydration and hygiene needs in Indian Country necessary to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
- $500 million to provide health care, including telehealth services to Native Americans, and to purchase medical supplies and personal protective equipment.
- $140 million to expand broadband infrastructure and information technology for telehealth and electronic health records system purposes.
- $20 million to provide health care, housing and isolation units for domestic violence victims and homeless Native Americans.
- No less than $366 million to provide isolation or quarantine space.
Bureau of Indian Affairs – $900 million to meet tribal government needs necessary to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including:
- $780 million to continue tribal government operations and programs and to clean tribal facilities.
- $100 million to address overcrowded housing, which is prohibiting social isolation.
- $20 million for sanitation needs to provide for hydration and hygiene issues to mitigate and respond to coronavirus.
Bureau of Indian Education – $450 million set aside in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for programs operated or funded by the Bureau of Indian Education.
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI)– $25 million for financial and technical assistance, training and outreach programs designed to benefit Native American, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native community CDFIs.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs – Provides $4 million for assistance to tribal governments exercising special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction authorized in the Violence against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention – $100 million for tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations or health service providers to tribes.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Health Surveillance and Program Support – not less $150 million for tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, or health service providers to tribes across a variety of programs to increase mental health support, substance abuse treatment and increased outreach.
Department of Transportation (DOT) – $150 million for the Tribal Transportation Program.
Environmental Protection Agency – $50 million for environmental justice grants, including investigating links between pollution exposure and the transmission and health outcomes of coronavirus in environmental justice communities.
Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act – Authorizes the Indian Health Service (IHS), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Defense (DOD) to enter into arrangements for the sharing of medical facilities and services with urban Native American organizations. The VA and DOD shall also reimburse an urban Native American organization where services are provided to beneficiaries eligible for services from either department.
Tribal School Federal Insurance Parity Act – Amends the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to authorize Indian tribes and tribal organizations operating tribally controlled schools the ability to access the Federal Employee Health Benefit program and the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance program.
PRC for Native Veterans Act – Requires the Veterans Health Administration to reimburse the Indian Health Service and tribally run health facilities for Purchased/Referred Care used for treating Native American veterans.
Chair Grijalva said the Trump administration should never have interfered with tribal leaders’ requests for badly needed aid by attempting to let for-profit Alaska Native Corporations access some of the funds – an effort that forced tribal governments to sue for the needed funds and spurred an investigation by the Department of the Interior inspector general.
# # #