President Begaye Disappointed Over IHS Council Vote

Window Rock, Navajo Nation, Ariz. - I am disappointed the Navajo Nation Council rejected the ‘638 Indian Health Services Contract proposal this evening. Though the Council’s decision significantly affects the ‘638 Health Care initiative, the administration will continue to work on improving health care services for the Navajo Nation; and will work with the Navajo people to identify and further pursue alternate solutions.

The administration openly supported the fundamental reasons to establish a ‘638 IHS Contract for the Navajo Nation, after all, ‘638 contracting of federal programs allows the Navajo Nation to embrace the concept of self-determination; therefore, in this case, would have allowed for flexibility and prioritization of health care on the Navajo Nation. Further, ‘638 contracting of federal programs promotes and exemplifies

Navajo self-determination.

The Navajo Nation has received overwhelming support from U.S. Congressmen and Congresswomen, U.S. Senators, and other federal officials, as well as, state officials regarding the premise of ‘638 contracting IHS services for the Navajo Nation. The contracting of IHS services would not completely eliminate the federal government’s trust responsibility, obligation, or burden of providing health care to Indian populations. What it would allow for is a streamlined, non-governmental body to administer health care services to Indian populations.

The notion of self-determination is the idea that one entity, in this case the Navajo Health Care System Corporation and the Navajo Nation, is empowered to provide services for a population, without the constraints of big government. Though we have lived with Indian Health Services for a long time, Vice President McKenzie and I received numerous comments that the Navajo people were not satisfied with IHS services; and acting on what was already established by the Navajo Nation Council through an exploratory Blue Ribbon Committee to determine the feasibility of providing an alternative Navajo health care system, Vice President McKenzie and I moved forward with an initiative that would find reasonable consideration to establish an HIS contract pursuant to P.L. 93-638, the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.

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