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Readout of 26th Annual HHS Tribal Budget Consultation

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Deputy Secretary Palm Highlighted the Importance of Tribal Self-Determination, Improving Health Coverage, and Addressing Health Disparities 

From April 9-10, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosted the 26th annual Tribal Budget Consultation at HHS headquarters in Washington, DC. This forum brought together HHS leaders and financial officers to consult with Tribal leaders on funding and policy priorities for the HHS FY 2026 budget. During this year’s Tribal Budget Consultation and in the days following the forum, HHS leaders, including Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm, engaged with Tribal leaders directly on how HHS can best support Tribal communities.

HHS Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm underscored HHS’ commitment work together with Tribal leaders to address Tribal health disparities and improve outcomes. Some of the priorities Deputy Secretary Palm highlighted included promoting Tribal self-determination, expanding coverage and lowering health care costs, expanding access to mental health and substance use disorder services in Indian Country, providing culturally-relevant care for Indigenous peoples, and investing in the wellbeing of children and families.

Since 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration has made historic progress in prioritizing the needs of Tribal communities across the nation. For the first time in history, the Biden-Harris Administration’s FY2023 budget provided the Indian Health Service (IHS) with advance appropriations, giving IHS budget certainty. Moreover, through funds allocated from the American Rescue Plan, HHS has invested over $5 billion to combat COVID-19 in Indian Country and improve equitable access to vaccines. Furthermore, the Inflation Reduction Act is already delivering lower prescription drug costs, making health insurance more affordable, and making the economy work for working families, including those in Tribal communities.

Additionally, President Biden’s FY 2025 budget allocates $8.0 billion in discretionary funding for IHS, representing an increase of $1.0 billion from the previous year. This funding will support over 14 million inpatient and outpatient visits, 1.1 million dental health visits, 931,000 mental health visits, and over 100,000 substance use visits within Indigenous communities. The budget proposes full mandatory funding for IHS beginning in FY 2026, with funding expected to grow by 427 percent over a decade, amounting to an additional $34 billion. The budget includes provisions to address health disparities, improve maternal and reproductive health outcomes, expand access to behavioral health care, and support early childhood education and childcare affordability in Native American communities.

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