Bill would expand health care options for Native veterans

Published: Aug. 3, 2019 at 6:50 PM AKDT
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A bill introduced in Congress would expand health care options for Native American veterans.

New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall and California Rep. Ro Khanna announced the bill Friday. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has signed on as co-sponsors.

The measure would allow the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to reimburse about three dozen health care facilities in 20 states for services provided to Native veterans in urban areas. California leads in the number of urban Indian health centers.

A reimbursement system already exists for about 185 hospitals and clinics run by the federal Indian Health Service or by tribes in more remote areas. Udall's office says those agreements helped more than 9,300 Native veterans last year.

Census figures show about three-quarters of Native Americans live in urban areas.

U.S. Representative Don Young, R-Alaska, is a co-sponsor of the bill.

“I have long supported giving veterans a choice in how they access their health care. Alaska Native veterans and veterans from Native communities across our country deserve to seek care at facilities that are close to their homes and from doctors who they feel most comfortable with. ” said Young.

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