I am proud to join Chairman Dorgan and Ranking Member Murkowski in supporting S. 1200, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) Amendments Act of 2007. This bill represents a firm and necessary step toward addressing the health care needs of our American Indian and Alaska Native communities nationwide. Enactment of this legislation helps increase access to health services and provides necessary updates to the health delivery systems being utilized by Indian country.

It has been more than 16 years since IHCIA was last authorized. While advancements and new approaches have been made available to many Americans, the services and treatments our native communities access through the Indian Health Service have been limited. I am pleased that the legislation strengthens disease prevention initiatives and improves access to continuity of care and comprehensive behavior health programs. As we work to reauthorize IHCIA, we have a great opportunity to address these challenges and bring the Indian Health Service into the 21st Century.

We must remember that it is our responsibility--the federal government’s trust responsibility to address the needs of our nation’s indigenous people. Through enactment of this legislation, we can take the necessary approach to improve the quality of life and reduce the significant health disparities experienced by our native communities.