Late Breaking News
President Asking for $4.03 Billion in Budget Authority for IHS
- Categorized in: July 2009 Issue
WASHINGTON—Indian Health Service beneficiaries may benefit from expanded health care services if the President’s proposed FY 2010 budget for the agency is passed by Congress.
The President is asking for $4.03 billion in budget authority for IHS. This is a $453.5 million—or an approximately 13% increase—over the agency’s FY 2009 budget appropriation. “It has been about 8 years since we have received a significant boost to our budget,” said Dr. Susan Karol, chief medical officer for IHS. “The 2010 budget came in at a 13% increase, which was really a historic event for us. We have never received that great of a boost.”
The budget request includes an increase of $167 million to cover increased costs associated with pay raises, population growth, inflation, and staffing and operating costs for new/expanded facilities.
The President is also asking for an increase of $117 million in contract health service funds, which are used to purchase health care that IHS is unable to provide through its own network. A portion of the total amount will be set aside for catastrophic or high-cost cases. The budget request also asks for an increase of $104.4 million for contract support costs and an additional $16.3 million for the IHS Health Information Technology system.
Financial Infusion for IHS
In addition to the proposed increase in the budget, IHS is receiving $500 million through the stimulus package that was passed by Congress earlier this year. That funding includes $20 million for health equipment that will allow the purchase of over 200 pieces of medical equipment, including 35 ambulances and 10 Computed Tomography (CT) scanners. Other equipment to be purchased includes cardiac monitoring equipment, equipment for integration of electronic patient records, blood chemistry analyzers, dental equipment, emergency defibrillators, and x-ray systems, among other items. The equipment will be distributed across 24 states. “We provide health care in very rural areas, so this equipment is critical in taking care of patients in that environment,” Dr. Karol said.
The new ambulances that will be purchased will replace old ones that need to be replaced. “The use of ambulances is extremely critical to take patients to our centers, and to get patients to our secondary and tertiary care centers,” she said.
The 10 new CT scanners are much needed equipment at facilities around the IHS as well, Dr. Karol said. “Some of our service units are not CT-scan equipped, so this will help bring their radiologic equipment up to date,” she said. “There is a huge need out there, and we would love to be able to saythat everyone was getting a new CT scanner, but unfortunately, the funding does not provide for that, so we have identified areas that need upgrading and improvement.”
The stimulus funding will also provide $227 million for health facilities construction, $100 million for maintenance and improvements, $85 million for health information technology, and $68 million for sanitation facilities construction.