There are 33 Urban Indian Health Projects in the United States that receive funding as such from the Indian Health Service. Last year there were 34, but the IHS decided to take out the Fresno clinic, so now we're down to 33 clinics serving this nation's 2.5+ million urban Indians.
In 2006, good ole George W. sent a budget proposal to congress that completely eliminated the $32.7 million in funding for Urban Indian Health Projects (UIHPs) for fiscal year 2007. The American Indian people of the nation protested and through a lot of hard work and even more "smart work" (ol' Georgie didn't know we had it in us), we got congress to re-appropriate funds for the program. In an attempt to not be outdone, GP (Georgie-Pordgie) repeated his request this year that for fiscal year 2008 the funding for UIHPs be eliminated.
Uproar and outrage!! UIHPs and our urban Indian people and tribal brothers and sisters from all across the country put ole GP in their political sights and steadied their trigger fingers just waiting for an opportunity to take down the man. Republicans all across the nation were decried as bigots (not that I'm saying they aren't, cuz everyone knows I think they are) and the ranks of the White House and the Justice Department were scrutinized as anti-Indian and anti-healthcare. Well duh, like we needed anyone to tell us that George W. Bush is anti-Indian or anti-healthcare. That's like acting shocked when you find out that Snoop Dog has been arrested for marijuana possession.
What is absolutely shocking, though, is how the true culprits have completely eluded any culpability on the part of the Indian community. We are so quick to knock down our Great White Father that we don't even stop to realize that our Great White Father doesn't even know we exist. Do you really think that George Bush woke up one morning and thought to himself, "ya know, I manage a nation of millions and oversee a budget (deficit) of trillions, but I think the answer lies in cutting $32.7 million from the UIHPs - eureka! that'll solve all my problems!!"
George Bush has little to no clue at all about UIHPs and the work they do and the monies they receive from IHS to leverage support from other funding sources. Who does know about this, however, is Dr. Charles W. Grim. As the presidentially-appointed head of the Indian Health Service, he oversees all aspects of Indian health, including the UIHPs. He knows exactly how much money the IHS allocates to these clinics and has plenty of ideas as to how that money could be spent in other areas of the IHS budget or used as the sacrificial lamb when GP calls upon all departments to "tighten their belts and help our nation reduce its deficit by reducing out-of-control spending". hmmm I could see how $32.7 million to provide health services for a population of more than 2.5 million could be seen as out of control when compared to the hundreds of billions being used to finance a war our nation had no business starting, but anyway.
So Dr. Grim says to the prez, yes we will come to the call of our nation and reduce our spending! Not by cutting his administrative budget or closing loopholes that lead to the waste of millions of dollars, but by targeting the UIHPs and the entire urban Indian population. Dr. Grim, as head of IHS, is the person that GP looks to for counsel on matters of Indian health. Ultimately, there is no way the UIHP funding could have ever been targeted if Dr. Grim had stood up and said, "No, this is not an expendable portion of our budget."
When urban Indians needed Dr. Grim to stand for them, all he did was sit. He sat on his ass and collected his fat paycheck while all the UIHPs stood in jeopardy. It wasn't Dr. Grim that got funding restored for 2007 and it isn't Dr. Grim that is leading the fight for 2008. The man who is charged with providing for and promoting the health of Indians throughout this nation has not lived up to his responsibilities. He should be answering to every single Indian person in this nation for the travesty that has been known as the IHS under his administration.
He's not, though, because we're too busy focusing on good ol' Georgie.