Tester: Senate has ‘historic opportunity’ to revamp Indian health care

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester said he and his colleagues have an "historic opportunity" to improve the lives of millions of Americans by updating the Indian Health Care Improvement Act for the first time in 15 years.

Tester is a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which drafted the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.  Despite several efforts in years past the legislation hasn't been updated since 1992, and it expired in 2000.  Congress has continued funding Indian health care piecemeal since then.

Tester noted that providing access to quality health care to American Indians is not only a duty that stems from treaties with the tribes signed by the United   States in exchange for land, it also cuts health care costs in the long run.

"The longer we wait, the worse the problem becomes," Tester said.  "The longer we wait, the more expensive this problem becomes… Make no mistake, we will all pay for the health care of our citizens.  But we will pay a premium if we choose not to do the right thing today and fully fund a program that is about lifelong health."