Focus on Native Americans No. 01-02
Date: Summer 2001
Indian Health Resources
This issue and future ones will cover web sites devoted to
Native American health care, including diabetes, elder care,
disabilities, and rehabilitation.
The Native American population (American Indians and Alaska
Natives) totals 2.2 million with 550 federally recognized
tribes in the United States. Most live on reservations or
in rural communities, while others reside in urban areas.
For many years, the Indian Health Service (IHS) was the
primary source of health care. Due to recent changes in
federal legislation, individuals may be eligible for other
sources of health care on or off the reservation.
__Association of American Indian Physicans__
A membership organization for health professionals concerned
with current health issues, legislative news, and
organizational activities. Members are active in medical
education, assisting Indian communities, and cross-cultural
training between western and traditional medical practices.
The organization acts as a referral agency to physicians in
both western and traditional medicine. The web site links
to the Society of American Indian Dentists, and resources on
AIDS, diabetes, cancer, and substance abuse.
__Center for American Indian Research and Education
CAIRE, at the University of California, Berkeley, works to
improve the health and educational status of American
Indians and Alaska Natives by developing culturally
sensitive health and social service intervention models in
various fields, such as environment, women's health,
wellness, diabetes, substance abuse, and cancer control and
__Indian Health Service (IHS)__<www.ihs.gov>;
IHS, a federal agency under the U. S. Public Health Services
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), provides a
comprehensive health-service delivery system to
approximately 1.5 million American Indians and Alaska
Natives who are members of federally recognized tribes and
live on or near a reservation.
The goal of IHS is to assist tribes in the development of
health programs including technical assistance and health-
management training. IHS coordinates resources available
through federal, state, and local programs and provides
health-care services, including hospital and ambulatory
medical care, and preventive and rehabilitative services.
Through IHS, patients can access hospitals, clinics, and
related health services on or near their reservations.
Health-care services are provided directly, and through
tribally contracted and operated health programs and private
providers. Special programs cover alcoholism, diabetes,
wellness, and mental health. IHS also offers some services
to Native Americans living in urban areas.
Medicaid is a jointly funded federal-state-local health
insurance program under the auspices of the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), formerly known as the
Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA). It provides
health-care services to individuals (including children, the
elderly, and individuals with visual or physical
disabilities among others) who are eligible to receive
federally assisted income maintenance. Eligibility
requirements vary from state to state. IHS and tribally
owned health-care facilities provide Medicaid services, and
states reimburse the facilities accordingly.
Medicare, also under CMS, is the nation's largest health
insurance program. It provides health insurance to
individuals age 65 and over, those with permanent kidney
failure, and others with disabilities. IHS and tribally
owned health care facilities provide Medicare services.
Several federal agencies, including HCFA, IHS, and Social
Security Administration (SSA) are participating in a two-
year education outreach project to educate Native Americans
about federal programs. The agencies plan to adapt existing
Medicare and Social Security information into products that
are culturally and linguistically appropriate for American
Indians and Alaska Natives elders. They selected
Albuquerque, New Mexico, as the demonstration site because
both IHS health facilities and Medicare-participating
facilities exist there, and eligible beneficiaries of the
five Pueblo Tribes (Jemez, Isleta, Sandia, Santa Ana, and
Zia) are willing to participate.
__National Center for American Indian and Alaska Native
Mental Health Research (NCAIANMHR)__
A program in the Department of Psychiatry, University of
Colorado Health Sciences Center, it is sponsored by the
National Institute of Mental Health. It is the only program
in the country that focuses specifically on promoting
culturally competent mental-health care to Native Americans.
The agency acts as a national referral agency for mental
health services to individuals, health planners, and service
providers. It publishes health related reports and offers a
forum on cause, treatment, and prevention to social service
__National Indian Health Board__ <www.nihb.org/home/
aboutthe.htm> The National Indian Health Board (NIHB)
is a nonprofit organization composed of tribal leaders
from each of the twelve IHS areas, and represents federally
recognized tribes on issues of national Indian health-care
legislation and policy. These leaders work with those tribal
governments that operate their own health-care delivery systems,
as well as those working with IHS. NIHB conducts research and
training programs, monitors federal legislation, and
networks with other national health-care organizations in
support of Native American health-care issues.
__National Native American AIDS Prevention Center__
A member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
technical support team, it provides training programs and
support services to Native American communities and health
departments on the care and prevention of AIDS, substance
abuse, and sexual transmitted diseases. The agency also
works on improving disease surveillance in Native American
communities. Within the agency there is the Native Care
HIV/AIDS Integrated Services Network. This network is a
collaborative effort between Native American service
providers to ensure access to health and social services by
HIV-infected Native Americans in urban and reservation
communities. It provides access to Native-specific
resources, including traditional healing. Network sites
located in selected urban and reservation communities offer
cultural awareness training to service providers, and
advocates for their clients.
The American Indian/Alaska Native Cancer Information
Resource Center and Learning Exchange (C.I.R.C.L.E.)
provides brochures and videos on specific health-related
topics including breast, prostate, and lung cancers; smoking
cessation; and nutrition. The web site provides links to
resources, bibliographies, grant applications and resources,
and a speakers' bureau.
For further information or suggestions for this series,
contact Ruth Nussbaum, editor, at [log in to unmask]