President’s Update for March 26, 2011

In this edition...

In this edition … ATHC pre-negotiations: This week the Alaska Tribal Health Compact (ATHC) held pre-negotiations with the Indian Health Services. The 25 co-signers to the compact represent 229 federally recognized tribes across the state of Alaska. While we share a single compact for health services, each co-signer has its own funding agreement. Final negotiations are set for May. Many issues were discussed including common language for the compact, changes to routine costs and buy-back arrangements, implementation of the reauthorized Indian Health Care Improvement Act authorities (an important part of the Affordable Care Act), access to the Federal Employee Health Benefit system and updates on the status of federal funding for the current fiscal year. Back to top ANHB strategic planning: The Alaska Native Health Board (ANHB) held a strategic planning session. ANHB is developing a multiyear strategic plan for the Alaska Tribal Health System. The group discussed the advocacy roles of ANHB around effective health systems, health promotion and wellness, and quality clinical and health systems. This meeting was a follow up to previous work in June and November. ANHB staff will compile this information from the meeting for the health board by April. Back to top National contract health workgroup comments: Co-signers to the Alaska Tribal Health Compact (ATHC) met with Chris Mandregan, Area Director, Alaska Area Native Health Service (Alaska Area IHS Director), to provide comments to Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, IHS Director, on recommendations from a national contract health workgroup. Alaska’s representatives on the workgroup include Carolyn Crowder (primary representative from the Aleutian/Pribilof Island Association) and Andy Teuber (alternate representative from the Kodiak Area Native Association and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium). The workgroup made recommendations to define the unmet contract health funding needs, improve and promote contract health business practices, evaluate parity in the current national contract health distribution formula, and applying the costs of true medical inflation to federal budget increases. Co-signers made several comments on the application of the national workgroup recommendations. Unlike other IHS areas, the Alaska Area is 100 percent under tribal management. The recommendation regarding business practices for IHS administered programs did not apply to our area. Under tribal management, SEARHC has the ability to redefine priorities for contract health and we have reprogrammed some of these funds to address unmet health needs over the years. We expressed concern with a re-evaluation of parity in the national distribution formula for contract health funds. The Alaska co-signers believe our best results are achieved through new resources rather than simply redistributing an inequitable funding level between IHS areas. We are supportive of clearly defining contract health shortfalls and linking future funds to the true costs of medical inflation. Medical inflation generally is much higher than the average inflation figures used by the Office of Management and Budget. Back to top Dr. Roubideaux listening session: Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, Indian Health Service (IHS) Director, held a listening session this week by teleconference with members of the Alaska Tribal Health Compact. Dr. Roubideaux provided an update on the current national funding situation. Congress adopted another continuing resolution and has not adopted a fiscal year 2011 budget. The last two continuing resolutions lasted for just a few weeks at a time. The challenges to the IHS of continuing resolutions are the extraordinary costs of making multiple partial payments and living under uncertain funding. Co-signers requested that the director make every effort to reduce the amount of time between the passage of a continuing resolution and the receipt of payments by the tribal health organization. The co-signers presented Dr. Roubideaux with several issues including implementation concerns for the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, meaningful use funding for electronic health records, Medicaid, appointment of a ratifier for negotiations, village built clinic lease program, contract support costs, suicide prevention funds, domestic violence, and cancer care. Back to top Applications available for SEARHC summer internship program for Native students: Applications are available for the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Summer Internship Program, which provides work experience for Alaska Native/American Indian students pursuing careers in health care. The SEARHC Summer Internship Program provides opportunities for six Native students — two high school, two bachelor’s degree and two master’s degree/clinical level. To qualify for this program, students must be enrolled tribal members or descendants as certified through a Certificate of Indian Blood (CIB). They must currently be enrolled in high school, college or vocational school and attending full time. And they must be in good academic standing with a minimum GPA of 2.5. The application deadline is Friday, April 15 (the application must be received or postmarked by this date), and the final selection of interns takes place on April 30. The internship program runs from June 20th through August 15th. Completed applications may be mailed to Romee McAdams at SEARHC, c/o Human Resources Department, 222 Tongass Drive, Sitka, AK 99835. Applications also can be faxed to 966-8404, or scanned and e-mailed to romee.mcadams@searhc.org. Application packets are available at Southeast Alaska high school offices, through local tribal organizations or by going to http://www.searhc.org/common/pages/studentinfo/internships/index.php. Back to top Alaska VA offers Tribal Veteran Representative training: The Alaska Veterans Affairs Healthcare System is recruiting Alaska Native veterans to train to be Tribal Veteran Representatives (TVRs). The representative is trained to understand VA benefits, programs and services available to veterans who have served this country. A TVR is an Alaska Native veteran or recognized individual appointed by an Alaska Native community, government, corporation or organization. TVRs are not VA employees and are recognized solely as a representatives of the Native organization that appointed the TVR. This training takes place from May 3-5 in Anchorage. To learn more about this program and how it works, contact Kathleen Johnson, Minority Veterans Program Coordinator, at (907) 257-5449. The deadline to apply for this training is April 20, and there may be travel scholarships available from the VA to help people outside Anchorage participate in this program. Back to top Denali Commission to host Juneau listening session: The Denali Commission invites partners and the public to attend a Juneau listening session from 9-11 a.m. on Friday, April 1, at the Douglas Room in the Baranof Hotel (127 N. Franklin St.). This event is part of a statewide series of listening sessions, and the Juneau session is held in conjunction with the Central Council of Tlingít and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). The Denali Commission hosted listening sessions in Anchorage, Bethel, Fairbanks and Nome where local and rural partners provided Denali Commission staff with ideas and strategies to help make the commission more effective as it moves into the next decade. For those people not able to physically attend the Juneau listening session, written comments will be accepted through Friday, April 15. Written comments can be directed to Karen Johnson at (907) 271-3036 or karenj@denali.gov, or to Monica Armstrong at (907) 271-1414 or marmstrong@denali.gov. For more information about the work of the Denali Commission, go to http://www.denali.gov/. Back to top Regards, Roald