Readout of HHS Deputy Secretary Palm’s Trip to Alaska to Visit Native Communities
Deputy Secretary Palm on her Trip Reiterated the Biden-Harris Administration’s Commitment to Serve Communities and Tribes across Alaska
Over the last several days, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm conducted an official trip to Alaska, visiting with Native communities and touring health facilities making use of HHS funding. During her visit, the Deputy Secretary delivered remarks at the National Indian Health Board Tribal Health Conference in Anchorage, Alaska and traveled across the state to Minto, Tanana, Rampart, Utqiagvik, Angoon, and Sitka.
During her visit, Deputy Secretary Palm visited with Tribal leaders and representatives as she toured local schools, assisted living facilities, health clinics, dental health aide therapist training sites, a water treatment plant, and a child care facility, among other sites. The Deputy Secretary reiterated HHS’ commitment to work closely with Alaskan and Tribal leaders to improve health services and discussed how HHS can best partner with local communities. She heard firsthand from tribal members, health care providers, and community organizations including the Arctic Slope Native Association, Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Tanana Chiefs Conference, and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium about the unique health challenges encountered by rural and remote Alaska Native communities. Also, she emphasized the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to addressing the nation’s behavioral health crisis. The Administration has made important progress on expanding access to behavioral health services, and invested billions of dollars through American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, to clearly send the message: Support is Here.
Since 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration has made historic progress in prioritizing the needs of Tribal communities across the nation including Alaska. The Biden-Harris Administration’s FY2023 budget for the first time in history provided the Indian Health Service (IHS) with advance appropriations, giving IHS budget certainty. This accomplishment is an important bridge to the President’s mandatory request in the FY2024 budget. The Administration has also increased support within the IHS to provide services to American Indian and Alaska Native patients, including suicide prevention, treatment for substance use disorder, and both in person and tele-behavioral health services. Additionally, 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.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring that comprehensive, culturally appropriate personal and public health services are available and accessible to American Indian and Alaska Native people.
The following participants were in attendance for events during the tour:
- Andrea Palm, HHS Deputy Secretary
- Roselyn Tso, Director of the Indian Health Service
- Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA