O'Halleran Leads Bipartisan Group to Reauthorize Special Diabetes Program for Indians

May 10, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) introduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) for five years and increase funding from $150 million to $200 million. The legislation is cosponsored by Congresswoman Diana DeGette (CO-01), Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01), Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23), Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04).

“Across Indian Country, limited access to preventative and primary health care has created a unique public health crisis that must be addressed. These communities are more than twice as likely to see diabetes diagnoses among adults,” O’Halleran said. “Since the passage of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, the rate of diabetes has declined and community health has improved. It is clear that this program works, and I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce bipartisan legislation that reauthorizes and funds it for five years.”

“Every family in this country deserves good health, but Native Americans continue to have the highest prevalence of diabetes, suffering at over two times the national average. With the reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, we can continue prevention and treatment through IHS, Tribal, and Urban Indian health programs to improve the overall health for both adults and children,” said Haaland, Co-Chair of the Native American Caucus.

“Indian Country as a whole is affected by a higher rate of diabetes than any other population,” said Mullin.  “Over the years, SDPI has proven to be effective in curbing the rate of diabetes in our native population and reducing potentially costly treatments paid by Medicare later on.  Prevention is the key to staying healthy and I am grateful for the men and women who operate SDP-I grant programs, and their continued efforts to ensure our native communities receive the preventative care they need to stay healthy.”

 “For more than two decades, the Special Diabetes Program for Indians has served as a vital resource for the well-being of Native Americans. Especially since Native American populations are much more likely to suffer from diabetes than others across the nation, I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing legislation to reauthorize funding for this important program to Indian Country,” said Cole.

“We care about people struggling with diabetes, and we will do everything we can to support research, treatment, and prevention efforts,” Reed said. “The Special Diabetes Programs has proven successful in delivering groundbreaking research in new treatment, technology and prevention services as well as the treatment and prevention of Type 2 diabetes for American Indians and Alaska Natives. We are pleased to see the overwhelming bipartisan support for this critical program.”

Following the passage of the SDPI in 1997, diabetes rates among American Indians and Alaska Natives have declined by 54 percent. The legislation introduced today will reauthorize the program for five years and provide $200 million in funding.

Haaland and Cole serve as co-chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus.