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Feds sending Native American clinics coronavirus relief money

Updated June 1, 2020 - 3:46 am

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday it will be sending more than $6.3 million to Native American health care providers in Nevada as part of $500 million in national relief for the Indian Health Service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Trump administration is making a targeted allocation from the funds Congress provided to send $500 million to Indian healthcare facilities,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. “Combined with other funding, supplies and flexibility around telehealth, we are working with tribal governments to do everything we can to support heroic Indian healthcare workers and protect Indian Country from COVID-19.”

Tribal communities often face a lack of access to critical health care facilities, with many of the Indian Health Service’s facilities serving as the only option for miles.

Tribal hospitals will receive a $2.81 million base payment, plus 3 percent of their total operating expenses. Tribal clinics will receive $187,000 in base payments plus 5 percent of the estimated population multiplied by the average cost per user. Indian Health Service urban programs will receive a $181,000 payment plus 6 percent of the estimated population multiplied by the average cost per user.

Health and Human Services estimated an operating cost of around $3,943 per person per year. The funds were drawn from congressional stimulus packages passed since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Indian Health Service, along with our tribal and urban Indian organization partners, are delivering crucial services under extraordinary circumstances,” service Director Rear Adm. Michael D. Weahkee said. “The resources provided by the Provider Relief Fund will make a real difference in our ability to fulfill the IHS mission of raising the physical, mental, social and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives during this pandemic.”

Contact Rory Appleton at rappleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter.

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