ADA calls for increased resources for Indian Health Service

Requests include money for workforce, medical equipment


The ADA is advocating for increased funding and resources for the Indian Health Service, emphasizing the need to address workforce shortages, update medical equipment and modernize electronic health records. 

The ADA and eight other organizations signed joint coalition letters separately addressed to the House and Senate. The group is called the AI/AN Health Partners, a coalition of health organizations dedicated to improving health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives, who they said face higher mortality and morbidity rates than the general population. 

“The Indian Health Service is critical to how they access health care,” the coalition letter said. “However, IHS must have sufficient resources to meet its mission to raise the physical, mental, social and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest level.”

The coalition noted that IHS program growth is particularly necessary given that the nation’s Native American population is expected to grow by 1.8% in 2026. It urged the inclusion of several budget increases that “will dramatically improve the delivery of health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

While the administration is requesting more than $81 million for the Indian Health Professions account, which provides loan repayment for providers and funds scholarships for Native American health care students, the coalition argued this is not enough. The proposed $684,000 increase “fails to make a meaningful dent in the backlog of loan repayment applicants or the high vacancy rate across the system,” according to the letter. The group is, instead, requesting an increase of $18 million for the account. 

The letter advocated for making IHS loan repayment and scholarships tax free with the Fiscal Year 2025 Interior Appropriations bill. The bill could provide a tax exemption for the Indian Health Service Health Professions Scholarship and Loan Repayment Programs, enabling IHS to fund more providers without increasing the Indian Health Professions account. This would also bring the HIS in line with other federal service loan repayment programs like the National Health Service Corps.

The coalition also advocated for “decent staff housing” since many of the staff quarters in the IHS health delivery system are more than 40 years old and in need of renovations. The group expressed support for the administration’s $11 million request for new and replacement staff quarters. 

Additionally, the letter notes that health care professionals need modern equipment to make accurate clinical diagnoses and prescribe effective medical treatments. The administration requested nearly $34 million, an increase of almost $1.3 million over the current funding of nearly $32.6 million. But the group urged funding for the Indian Health Facilities equipment account at the amount of at least nearly $42.9 million. 

The letter concluded by emphasizing the importance of having a modern electronic health record system to provide “accurate and vital” health care for patients. The coalition supported the administration’s request of $435 million, which provides an additional $213 million to modernize its health system and ultimately replace IHS’ current medical, health and billing records systems. 

Follow the ADA’s advocacy efforts at

Recommended Content


© 2023 American Dental Association