New Indian Health post approved by Senate panel

The Senate Indian Affairs committee moved Thursday to create a new federal position for Indian health issues.

The bill (S.214), sponsored by Arizona Republican John McCain, would establish a new post at the Department of Health and Human Services for an assistant secretary for Indian health, elevating the current director of Indian health services to the assistant secretary level. The committee approved the legislation on a voice vote.

Among other things, the assistant secretary would advise other agencies and programs in HHS about issues of Indian health. According to the legislation, the current director of Indian health services, Dr. Michael H. Trujillo, could continue in the new post, at the discretion of the president.

The Indian Health Service includes 12 administrative regional offices, which oversee local hospitals and clinics.

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