IHS gets permanent residence
Reform law removes agency’s uncertain future
As the new federal health law continues to generate uncertainty for many healthcare providers, it will provide long-sought stability to the Indian Health Service, the HHS agency that was made permanent as a result of the legislation.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act reauthorized the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which Congress first approved in 1976. But the authorization of appropriations for the act expired in 2000, and supporters of this legislation have pushed for its reauthorization ever since. The updated act has no expiration date.
“The bill permanently reauthorized the IHS,” Yvette Roubideaux, director of the Indian Health Service, wrote in her blog. “Health reform just means that, in general, American Indians and Alaskan Natives can continue to be eligible for and use IHS, tribal, or urban Indian health programs, but if they want to, they will be able to purchase health insurance through the exchanges, which should have more affordable options.”
According to the IHS, the reauthorized act signed into law on March 23 updates the 1976 act in a variety of ways, such as: providing authorization for hospice; assisted living, long-term and home-and community-based care; updating the current law regarding the collection of reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program by Indian health facilities; authorizing IHS to enter into arrangements with the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments to share medical facilities and
The Indian Health Service was made permanent as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.