Shutdown Causes Some Native American Health Clinics To Close

Published: Friday, January 18, 2019 - 4:03pm
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The federal Indian Health Service has no appropriations for the current fiscal year. The House passed a measure to fund the program at $4 billion but the bill awaits Senate consideration. As the government shutdown  lingers, many clinics that rely on these funds are hurting and a few have even closed their doors.

Seventy-eight percent of Native Americans live in urban areas and rely on Urban Indian Health Programs. Native American Lifelines in Boston and Baltimore has had to close its doors, since the shutdown began. Its director, Kerry Hawk Lessard, told a House committee this week many of the 41 urban programs are struggling without adequate funds.

"The money to operate our facility has effectively stopped coming in but the patients have not stopped needing health care," Hawk Lessard said. "We thus far have had to deny purchase of care requests that are critical to chronic care management including insulin, blood pressure medication and antibiotics."

Native Americans for Community Action in Flagstaff has surplus funds from last year to keep its doors open until mid-February. In Phoenix, Native Health has had to freeze pay increases and hiring, but it's still offering services.

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