Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Fights for Native Hawaiian Health Care, Housing, and Education in Spending Bill

July 31, 2020
Press Release
Washington, DCToday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) voted for the $197 billion Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, which provides funding for federal labor, health, human services, and education programs for the upcoming fiscal year 2021. As a result of Rep. Gabbard’s leadership and work, the legislation includes $100 million in funding for Native Hawaiian-focused programs. The bill, which was passed by the House Appropriations Committee and then included as part of the “minibus” — a combination of 6 smaller funding bills — was passed by the House of Representatives today.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted how fragile and important quality healthcare is, especially for rural, underserved, and Native Hawaiian communities. We need an unshakeable commitment to better meet the needs of our most vulnerable and the funding to get it done,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “That’s why I worked hard to make sure this bill includes funding and research that will improve health and education outcomes for Native Hawaiians as well as provide funding to support housing, healthcare, and education for Tribal, AAPI, and disadvantaged communities.”
Rep. Gabbard led efforts to support health care and education for rural and underserved communities, including Native Hawaiians. Her leadership led to the bill including:
  • $19 million for Native Hawaiian Health Care to support ongoing efforts to expand the capacity of the Native Hawaiian Health Centers.
  • $37.9 million for Native Hawaiian Education, which provides resources for teacher training, family-based education, gifted and talented education, special education, higher education, and community-based education learning centers.
  • $19.4 million for the Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions program, which helps eligible institutions of higher education increase their self-sufficiency and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability of eligible institutions that serve Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities.
  • $37.3 million for the Native American Nutrition and Support Services, a vital program that provides grants to Tribes to promote the delivery of nutrition and home and community-based supportive services to Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian seniors.
  • $4.7 million for the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) Program, which acknowledges the unique challenges facing Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students in college access and completion. The program helps develop curriculum and academic instruction; enhance tutoring, counseling, and other student support programs; and establish community outreach programs that encourage AAPI elementary and secondary school students to develop academic skills.
  • $12.3 million for the Native American Caregivers Program, which would provide additional funds to eligible organizations to support family and informal caregivers of native elders by increasing home and community services using evidence-based practices that respond to local needs, and specifically target American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian families caring for older relatives with chronic illnesses or disabilities, and grandparents caring for grandchildren.
  • $55.5 million for the programs administered by the Administration for Native Americans, including the Sustainable Employment and Economic Development Strategies, Social and Economic Development Strategies, Native Youth Initiative for Leadership, Empowerment and Development, and Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance. These programs were established to assist native communities build social and economic development capacity. This funding included $15 million for Native American language preservation activities and $6 million for language immersion programs as authorized by section 803C(b)(7)(A)–(C) of the Native American Programs Act, as amended by the Esther Martinez Native American Language Preservation Act of 2006.
  • $2.7 million for the Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services grants program, which supports Indian tribes and organizations that primarily serve and represent Native Hawaiians.
  • $1.9 million to the State of Hawaiʻi for the treatment of Hansen’s disease patients within the state in accordance with 42 U.S. Code § 247e, the National Hansen’s Disease Programs Center.
  • $300.5 million for the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP). The HPP program is an important tool that helps health systems prepare for the worst from a wide array of threats.The program establishes important grants and regional health care coalitions that incentivize diverse and often competitive health care organizations with differing priorities to work together to focus on the common needs of the communities and regions that they serve.
  • $95.9 million for the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP), which provides job training, placement, and other services for eligible migrant and seasonal farm workers.
Along with her colleagues, she co-led several additional initiatives, leading to the inclusion of:
  • $130.5 million for Healthy Start, a network of 100 community-based programs that support low-income and disadvantaged pregnant women and their families, child abuse prevention. The program’s goal is to improve birth outcomes and the health and development of infants into early childhood.
She also secured language in the report to accompany the bill, including language:
  • Encouraging study on fostering stronger educational pathways between the K–12 school system and postsecondary institutions to improve teacher recruitment, training, and retention in the area of Native Hawaiian education.
  • Supporting a plan for addressing public health threats caused by climate change.
  • Directing the Office of Minority Health to create a Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity to support efforts including research, education, service, and policy development related to advancing Indigenous solutions.
  • Requiring a report on provider shortages in non-contiguous States.
  • Urging the CDC to work through emergency responders, Centers of Excellence, Community Health Centers, and other applicable providers to provide education and training on proper protocols to prevent and treat measles, including immunization.  
  • Supporting colleges of medicine at public universities located in the top quintile of States projected to have a primary care provider shortage. The language further directs HRSA to give priority to applications from universities in states with the greatest number of Federally-recognized Tribes and from public universities with successful public-private partnership.  
  • Urging CMS to study the benefit of policies to increase coverage of, and access to, comprehensive dental benefits for adults in State Medicaid programs.
  • Encouraging the CDC to consider including high childhood obesity rates in its eligibility criteria for the High Obesity Program, as well as consider opening eligibility to program sites in census tracts with high obesity rates. 
  • Encouraging NCI to expand support for the Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (PACHE) Program to address cancer health disparities. The language prioritizes funding to states and territories in the Pacific Region, where sociocultural, geographic, and biologic factors contribute to cancer health disparities in indigenous Pacific peoples (IPPs) in Guam, Hawaiʻi, and the U.S. Associated Pacific Islands (USAPI), and IPPs experience a greater burden of cancer health disparities that are associated with late-stage diagnosis and poor survival outcomes compared with majority populations in the U.S. 
The bill included a additional beneficial funding, including:
  • $65 million for the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH). The OMH advises the Secretary and the OPHS on public health issues affecting American Indians, and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, Blacks/African Americans, and Hispanics/Latinos. The OMH is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities.
  • $500,000 for the HIRE Vets Program, which helps America's veterans and service members by preparing them for meaningful careers, providing employment resources and expertise, and protecting their employment rights.
  • $2.25 billion for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
  • $10 million for the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP), which provides funding for training, career development, and mentoring for mental and behavioral health professionals to work with ethnic minorities.
  • $20 million for the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program, which supports the education and training of doctoral level health service psychologists.
  • $10 million for the Statewide Family Engagement Program (SFEC) program. SFEC focuses on much needed technical assistance and partnership development for states and school districts to better support schools and educators to engage with families.
  • $370 million for the "Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) Program. GEAR UP grants are awarded either to “partnerships” of school districts, Institutions of Higher Education and community organizations, or to States who serve multiple school districts. Programming includes increased rigor to prepare students for college-level work, financial literacy information to help students and their families make wise financial decisions, and college visits that expand the horizon of students who are likely the first in their family to attend college.
  • $100.5 million for the YouthBuild Program, full-time federal programs that help youth between the ages of 16 and 24 earn their GEDs or high school diplomas while receiving job training. YouthBuild provides comprehensive services and offers unique, full-time, non-residential, community-based programming that offers at-risk youth an immediately productive role in rebuilding their community. Students spend half their time attending basic education classes and half their time receiving job skills training in the construction field.
  • $185 million to the Apprenticeship Grants program, up by $10 million from the FY2020 enacted level. Established in 2016, the program’s focus is to expand work-based learning programs in in-demand industries through registered apprenticeships. 
  • $865 million (a $10 million increase from the FY20 enacted level) and $925.1 million (a $12 million increase from the FY20 enacted level), respectively, for the Adult Employment and Training Activities and Youth Employment and Training Activities, two valuable workforce training programs for adults and youth. In particular, the Committee cited concerns that the 16-24 age group are limited in resources and networks to find work.  
Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been a leader in Congress fighting for quality, affordable healthcare that brings down costs that ensures basic health services are available to all Americans. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has fought to ensure that Medicare reimbursement rates for Hawai‘i accurately reflect and meet the unique challenges it faces and, in April, urged leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee as well as the House Ways and Means Committee do so, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is a Congressional leader in efforts to help America’s nurses and strengthen the U.S. nursing workforce. She is the co-chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus and introduced the bipartisan H.R.728, the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act with caucus co-chair Rep. Dave Joyce (OH-14). The House of Representatives passed the bill in October 2019. Earlier this month, she introduced H.R.7455, the Equitable Payments for Nursing Facilities Act, a bipartisan bill that would authorize the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to make adjustments to payment rates for Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) in Hawai‘i and Alaska under Medicare.
She has hosted a Congressional briefing focused on the severe shortage of nurses in Hawai‘i and across the country.
Recognizing the important role nurses have on the frontline of America’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus public health crisis, Rep. Gabbard and Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13) introduced H.R.6809, the Nurse Workforce Protection Act, a bipartisan bill that would prevent a healthcare provider from laying off a significant portion of its nursing workforce or significantly reducing their hours during the coronavirus crisis as a condition for receiving federal emergency relief funds.
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for over 17 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
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