WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) announced that they secured $13 million in funding for new Indian Health Services (IHS) substance abuse programs in a major bipartisan appropriations bill to fund the government through September 2017. The provision dedicates $2 million in new funding specifically for partner detoxification facilities, such as Na'Nizhoozhi Center Inc. (NCI) in Gallup. Altogether the funding will help IHS provide grants and treatment throughout Indian Country.
NCI offers a desperately needed social detox program, but it has struggled to find stable funding and has run the risk of closing. The Center is not an IHS facility, but is the only detox facility serving the population in the rural community adjacent to the Navajo Nation and Pueblo of Zuni, and an estimated 98 percent of the clients are Native American. Udall, Heinrich and Luján have partnered with the Gallup community and IHS to help find viable federal funding options that will enable NCI to stay open, especially in the winter months. NCI will be able to apply for the $2 million in funding, and the lawmakers believe that it will have a good chance of success given the need in the community and NCI's history as a recipient of federal funding. Udall, Heinrich and Luján have met with the IHS director and other federal officials to discuss future funding options. And in 2016, IHS provided emergency funds to help keep NCI open.
"This funding gives IHS the ability to work collaboratively with NCI and help ensure it has the resources it needs to provide its life-saving services this year. And I hope it will enable NCI to build capacity and offer more addiction treatment services, in addition to a safe place off the street," said Udall, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee who championed the funding as the lead Democrat on the subcommittee that oversees funding for IHS. "We all have the same goal: to prevent a public health crisis, particularly in the winter months when people are most at risk. The issues facing NCI are complex, but the services it provides are vitally important and literally save lives. We will continue to work collaboratively with IHS, NCI, Tribes and local officials in Gallup to ensure long-term funding for the clinic and other substance abuse solutions because Tribal patients need this care."
“As someone who has worked in McKinley County, I have witnessed firsthand the tragic consequences of substance abuse in Gallup," Heinrich said. "I have grieved with the community at the loss of life each winter as the cold and alcohol have taken lives. For far too long, sporadic funding sources have threatened to close NCI, leaving the community without lifesaving services. This appropriation provides the much-needed dollars to continue care. I am grateful for the professionals on the front lines in Gallup working to help our neighbors struggling with addiction. I am pleased we were able to pass this bill and provide financial relief.”
“This important funding will allow the Indian Health Service to strengthen its ability to help those with substance abuse problems through treatment services that are in short supply today,” said Luján. “We must do all that we can to help Tribal patients get the treatment they deserve, and to help IHS expand their capacity to provide that care.”