President Shelly discusses Navajo Nation health issues with Indian Health Services official

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly outlined health concerns for the Navajo Nation to Indian Health Services Director Dr. Yvette Roubideaux during a meeting Friday afternoon.

President Shelly discussed issues including construction of health care facilities, the Navajo Medicaid Feasibility Study, the need for consolidation of funds for the Department of Human Health and Services for American Indians and Alaska Natives and potential budget cuts.

"Our pressing concern is the looming impact of the automatic across-the-board budget cut for federal programs come January. We are concerned about the extent to which it may decrease funding for direct health service and health facilities construction," Shelly said.

Dr. Roubideaux said potential budget cuts concern her as well and asked the Navajo Nation to present plans that would minimize budgetary constraints to key programs.

Shelly thanked Roubideaux for keeping five health center projects on the facilities construction priority list, including a health facility under construction in Kayenta, Ariz.

Shelly also thanked Roubideaux for helping the Navajo Nation complete the Navajo Medicaid Feasibility Study in July, adding he wants to see the Navajo Nation administer Medicaid on the Navajo Nation.

Shelly recommended that the Department of Human and Health Services consolidate funding for American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

"We recommend the DHHS develop a plan, policy, or authority that will transfer all health care and public health services-related funds to the IHS, as a point of contact, and for the funds to be authorized and eligible for contracting or compacting consistent with Public Law 93-638," Shelly said.

Approximately 20 people attended the meeting including Vice President Rex Lee Jim and Council Delegate Jonathan Hale.

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