COLT urged Congress to include advance appropriations for Indian Healthcare in the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill.    

BROWNING, MT – Congress Tuesday released the $1.7 trillion fiscal year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill.  The bill includes two years of funding for healthcare provided by the Indian Health Service (IHS).  

“Tribal members across this great land depend on healthcare provided by the federal government that was promised to us in treaties,” said COLT Chairman Marvin Weatherwax, a member of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, the governing body for a federally recognized Indian tribe. 

“Inclusion of advance appropriations for our healthcare is a step in the right direction for the United States to keep those longstanding promises.”        

Chairman Marvin Weatherwax

This change would ensure that IHS programs are steadily funded despite uncertainty that comes with Continuing Resolutions, sequestration and government shutdowns.  Veterans’ healthcare, one of the only other government-funded healthcare programs, has enjoyed this stability for more than ten years.  Indian Health Service provides healthcare to 2.5 million people.

COLT urges the swift passage of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill and looks forward to working address other issues that affect large land based tribes in the 118th Congress.  In particular, COLT hopes that the advance appropriations for IHS achieved in the Omnibus will pave the way for future important protections for tribal law enforcement and social services that are also uniquely and unfairly left vulnerable in the federal funding process. 

Many tribes receive not only their healthcare, but also their law enforcement and basic public safety, education and social services from the United States.  These critical services are wrongly framed as discretionary spending.  COLT urges that all Indian program across the federal government be protected by both mandatory and advance appropriations, and especially Indian Affairs and IHS. 

The FY 2023 Omnibus marks an important first step in fulfilling the federal-tribal treaty and trust obligations, while also ensuring tribes’ equitable treatment with other groups reliant on the federal government for healthcare, law enforcement, education and other basic dignities.

About Coalition of Large Tribes  

COLT is an intertribal organization and a federally chartered corporation under 25 U.S.C. § 477 representing the interests of the 51 tribes that have reservations of 100,000 or more acres, encompassing more than 95% of all Indian lands in the United States.  COLT tribes span Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.