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Bipartisan Senate coronavirus relief package includes more than $10 billion towards tribal responses to COVID-19 in Washington state and nationwide

Funding includes investments in the federal Indian Health Service, public health preparedness, telehealth, electronic health records, and the Urban Indian Health Program 

Senator Murray: “Know I will continue fighting for more resources to help our tribes weather this storm today and in the weeks and months to come”

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped secure more than $10 billion for tribal COVID-19 response expenses as part of the Senate’s major coronavirus package. This money will go to a variety of programs, including the Urban Indian Health Program, and to individual tribes to address the spread of coronavirus in tribal communities.

“We know crises often adversely impact tribal and other historically-overlooked communities disproportionately, and this pandemic is no exception. That’s why from the beginning I’ve fought to strengthen federal funding for our tribes to make sure they have the tools and resources necessary to address this pandemic, and am glad we were able to take significant steps in this legislation to increase funding for programs like the Urban Indian Health Program that have been so indispensable in the work to slow the spread of the virus in Indian Country. Know I will continue fighting for more resources to help our tribes weather this storm today and in the weeks and months to come.”

Washington state tribes have been proactive in addressing coronavirus, but as the virus continues to spread, tribal communities, including health care services and other critical programs, could easily be overwhelmed. Senator Murray, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped secured the following provisions for Indian Country in the Senate package to help tribes deal with the outbreak of COVID-19:

  • $8 billion set aside for tribal governments to respond to COVID-19 needs and expenses
  • $1.032 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS) to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including funding for public health support, electronic health record modernization, telehealth and other information technology upgrades, the Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund, Urban Indian Organizations, Tribal Epidemiology Centers, and Community Health Representatives. This funding also includes:
    • $450 million for urban Indian organizations
    • $125 million for Indian Health Facilities
    • $65 million for electronic health record stabilization and support
  • A set-aside minimum of $125 million for tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian health organizations in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grants or cooperative agreements to conduct public health preparedness and response activities, including:
    • Surveillance and monitoring
    • Laboratory testing to identify new cases
    • Tracing to identify additional positive cases
    • Infection control at the local level to prevent new cases
    • Mitigation activities
  • $20 million for nutrition services under the Older Americans Act
  • $15 million for the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders and mental illness through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • $15 million for telehealth and rural activities through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)