AIHC Legislative Updates

AIHC Legislative Updates

AIHC's Tribal Health Legislative Priorities 2021

Together we can educate, influence, and help the legislature partner with us to strengthen and redesign our Indian Health system of care into one that reflects our indigenous values.

American Indian Health Commission Legislative Priorities 2021

The 2021 session created challenges to our annual “Tribal Legislative” Day event and had some interesting results. During the last 2 sessions, the AIHC facilitated in-person on campus “Tribal Legislative” Day visits with representatives. Visits were primarily scheduled between tribal members and their district representatives to discuss Tribal legislative priorities. This year’s focus on COVID efforts by tribal members made it necessary for AIHC to be creative in reaching legislators during the 2021 session. Visits were done via zoom by a small committee that included Tribal & UIHP Policy, AIHC Executive and Legislative staff. Approximately 30 zoom meetings, over a threeweek period, were held to discuss Tribal legislative priorities. Although, not pursuing specific legislation this session, the committee focused their advocacy on several important issues which are listed below. Additionally, education of legislators, caucus members and legislative staff was also undertaken. Training included Tribal health priorities, the Tribal health system and Tribal Sovereignty.


Continued education is necessary to institutionalize sustainable knowledge of tribal sovereignty, health programs and challenges faced by tribal communities. It is anticipated training may facilitate legislator awareness about the impact laws may have on tribes before laws are written.

Training was initiated to educate representatives, caucus members and legislative staff.

Working with Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self, Israel Rios (her staff) and Amy Ruble, House Democratic Caucus staff, a training on the 2021 Tribal Health Priorities was accomplished on February 19th. Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self sponsored the event, sending invitations to both Democratic and Republican legislator and Legislative staff. The training was well attended by Legislators and resulted in Representative Ortiz-Self requesting it be repeated next year.

Additionally, during “Legislative Day” discussions with other legislators, training was requested on Tribal Sovereignty and the Indian Health Care system and the UIHP Health Care system.

The Tribal Sovereignty training for legislative interns has been scheduled for March 22 and 23rd.

Training on the UIHP health care system has been requested by Senator Stanford and will be scheduled towards the end of session and/or after session ends.

Senator Stanford is also interested in sponsoring a bill next year that will require commissions and boards to include tribal representatives. Sen. Stanford was made aware of concern over the lack of representation on the EMD Council. He believes this bill could remedy this problem. Senator Stanford is the prime sponsor of this years EMD Tribal member bill.

Senator Stanford has informed us he is the contact for Tribal issues on the Senate side and he takes this role very seriously. Senator Stanford’s staff (Erica Mendez) is a Quinault Tribal member and thanked the AIHC for all its efforts on behalf of tribes in Washington state.

All Documents in a Google folder

AIHC Legislative Priorities One-pager

Testifying During 2021 Session – Accessing the Legislature Remotely

Add Tribal Representation on the Emergency Management Council:

Status (3/5/21) – On the Governor’s desk.

SB5101 Sponsored by Sens. Stanford, Conway, Dhingra, Hasegawa, Hunt, Nguyen, Randall, Saldaña, Wagoner, Wilson, C.

BACKGROUND: Washington State has a government-to-government relationship with Tribal Governments and has designated Tribal Governments as one of the four parts of the Public Health System. To honor these relationships, tribal representation should be added to the Washington State Emergency Management Council. This amendment is budget neutral. Washington State Legislature

ASK: Please consider supporting this bill with language to ensure Tribal representation is chosen by Tribes. 


Tribal Involuntary Treatment Provisions:

Status: Amended into 5073. On the Governor’s desk for signature. 

BACKGROUND: Language will be amended into SB 5073. This legislation cleans up language in the Indian Behavioral Health Act from 2020; adds Tribes and Indian health care providers among entities able to petition courts for Involuntary Treatment Admissions of a minor under Joel’s Law. Removes jurisdictional language that was confusing.

OUR ASK: Amendment Needed still, then Support SB 5073: Concerning Involuntary Commitment.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women:

Status: Provisio passed in budget.

Supported by Sen. Dhingra and Rep. Lekanoff in coordination with the Office of the Attorney General

BACKGROUND: The rate for missing American Indian and Alaska Native women in Washington State is 4.2 times higher than that for white women. Tribal and urban Indian communities have called for the formation of a community-led statewide task force to continue Washington State’s work to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. A statewide task force would take the next step to determine legislative versus administrative fixes to address challenges in data collection and reporting practices, tribal-state jurisdiction, and direct prevention and response services for American Indian and Alaska Native people impacted by gender-based violence.

ASKSupport this $500,000 budget proviso for the Office of the Attorney General to convene a MMIWG Statewide Task Force.

Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention:

Status: Passed in budget

BACKGROUND: DOH funding request for an additional $400k to build Tribal specific community tools to help those helping other community members and family when they are in crisis. Includes funding for the AIHC Annual Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention Summit.

ASK: Support this DOH funding in the budget.

Fund Foundational Public Health Services (FPHS) Budget Request:

Status: ESHB 1152 on Governor’s desk, funded additional $147 million with an increase to $296 million in next biennium. 

BACKGROUND: A strong governmental public health system is essential to keep Washington healthy and safe. We support full funding of FPHS. The Governor’s budget has $143 million, this is a good start. Sustainable funding to ramp up to full funding of $450 million over the next few years.

ASK: Fund FPHS at the level in the Governor’s Office based on sustainable funding.

Dental Therapist:

Status- Failed. DHAT Taskforce and continued Medicaid funding for DHAT services in budget.

SB 5142 Sponsored by Frockt, Das, Dhingra, Hasegawa, Lovelett, Randall, Rivers, Robinson, Saldaña, Stanford, Wilson, C.

BACKGROUND: This bill will expand the ability of dental therapists (including DHATs) to provide services across the state focusing on providing access to Medicaid clients. This bill has two significant changes to meet lawmaker concerns. Private practice dental clinics are no longer eligible practice settings for dental therapists, and preceptorship hours have been extended. These changes allow for incremental expansion of the profession with additional oversight.

ASK: Please support this bill as it moves through Senate and then the House.

Health Equity Zones:

Status- On the Governor’s desk.

SB 5052 Sponsored by Sens. Keiser, Randall, Cleveland, Conway, Das, Frockt, Hasegawa, Kuderer, Lovelett, Nguyen, Nobles, Robinson, Saldaña, Salomon, Wilson, C.

BACKGROUND: Health equity zones are specifically identified geographic areas that have the goal of achieving health equity by eliminating health disparities. Subject to funding, DOH, in coordination with the Governor’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities, local health jurisdictions, and accountable communities of health, must review relevant health and population data to identify, or allow communities to self-identify, potential health equity zones in the state and develop projects to meet the unique needs of each zone. Recognized American Indian Organizations (RAIOs) and Urban Indian communities are specifically called out in the bill as communities that must be worked with.

ASK: Please support this bill as it moves through senate and then the House.

Other Legislation/Budgets AIHC supports:

Universal SB 5399– Need to ensure AI/AN population is exempt with ability to opt-in and there is limited or zero cost-sharing. Passed- on Governor’s desk

Medicaid Postpartum extension SB 5068- Improving maternal-infant health outcomes by extending Medicaid postpartum coverage for up to twelve months after the last day of pregnancy. Signed into law.

Questions can be directed to:

Vicki Lowe, Executive Director, AIHC or 360-460-3580

Maria Gardipee Ness, Legislative Liaison, AIHC or 360-742-2532


To view 2020’s Legislative Priorities and Results, click here.

To view 2019’s Legislative Priorities and Results, click here.

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