274824 Right to Health: Native American Perspectives

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 2:45 PM - 3:00 PM

Roxane Spruce Bly, Project Director of the Commission , Director of the Bernalillo County Off Reservation Native American Health Commission, Albuquerque, NM
While health care as a human right might be up for debate, American Indians are one of the few populations in the United States that are legally entitled to receive health care through the federal government. The lack of political will and the discretionary nature of Indian health funding has created significant barriers to developing strategies to improve the health of Native American communities. Nearly 70% of American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) live away from their home reservations. Individuals living in off-reservation communities typically lack access to health services due to limited Indian Health Service funding, no insurance or the lack of culturally appropriate services at non-Indian health centers. AI/AN in these communities suffer from higher rates of diabetes, depression and substance abuse than other races and ethnicities. In Bernalillo County, New Mexico, off-reservation community members took an important first step to change this paradigm by mobilizing to create a Native American Health Commission. When the Commission was enacted by the New Mexico State Legislature in 2008, it created a voice for a population that had never before been represented in local or state health policy decisions. As a result, this group is increasingly engaged at local and state levels for input into health policy. This presentation will include a description of local strategies that were used to mobilize community members to change health policy and the process used to complete a communitybased, participatory strategic health plan that reinforces federal obligations to serve tribal members regardless of where they live.

Learning Areas:
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Explain the federal obligation to provide health care services to American Indians. Describe the complexity and difficulty of holding the federal government accountable to their obligation.

Keywords: Human Rights, American Indians

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico with nearly 10 years of Indian health policy expertise, I have focused on education, and advocacy regarding the Indian health system. I was contracted by the New Mexico Human Services Department to explore implications of the new federal reform laws for American Indians and by the Indian Health Service to educate their Service Units on the new laws.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.