Sinema-backed bipartisan bill guarantees Indian Health Service, Tribal health authorities, & urban Indian organizations have access to Strategic National Stockpile
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema cosponsored the Tribal Medical Supplies Stockpile Access Act – bipartisan and bicameral legislation that guarantees the Indian Health Service (IHS), Tribal health authorities, and urban Indian organizations have access to the Strategic National Stockpile.
“Tribal governments should have equal access to the Strategic National Stockpile, and our bipartisan bill ensures Tribal governments have the ability to use our country’s critical medical supplies during a health emergency like the coronavirus pandemic,” said Sinema.
“Tribal nations should not have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to access vital medical supplies, particularly during a public health crisis. This legislation will ensure that tribal healthcare providers can directly receive supplies from federal stockpiles of N95 masks, vaccines, and other items. The Tohono O’odham Nation appreciates the leadership of Senator Sinema and others on this issue, and we urge Congress to support the health of indigenous communities by passing this important bill,” said Ned Norris Jr., Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation.
The Sinema-backed Tribal Medical Supplies Stockpile Access Act ensures tribal access to the Strategic National Stockpile – a federal repository of drugs and medical supplies that can be tapped if a public health emergency could exhaust local supplies. The Strategic National Stockpile was used during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, helping save lives and support local communities weather the peak of the pandemic. This bipartisan legislation guarantees tribal communities have equal access to emergency stock of medical supplies.
Currently, IHS and Tribal health authorities’ access to the Strategic National Stockpile is limited and not guaranteed. However, states’ and large municipalities’ public health authorities have ready, direct access to the Strategic National Stockpile. Making Tribal governments go through states has proven to be inefficient.
The Sinema-backed bipartisan legislation is supported by the Tohono O’odham Nation, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Salt River Pima County Indian Community, Navajo Nation, Gila River Indian Community, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), National Indian Health Board (NIHB), and National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH).