NIHB Media Release                   




Media Contact: April Hale at 202-507-4077 or


NIHB is Granted 'Official Observer' Status by the American Medical Association's House of Delegates

NIHB to advance Indian Country's tribal health policy agenda.


WASHINTON, DC--November 22, 2013--Earlier this week the American Medical Association (AMA) passed a resolution during its annual House of Delegates meeting to change its bylaws to grant the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) "Official Observer" status. The House of Delegates is the principal policy-making body of the AMA and made up of 500 voting members. NIHB is now a part of a group of prestigious organizations that can official observe the House of Delegates proceedings.

NIHB Executive Director Stacy A. Bohlen holds the AMA resolution granting NIHB as an Official Observer to the AMA House of Delegates on November 18, 2013.


"Not only is this a historical event, but it is also quite an honor to be welcomed into the American Medical Association as an Official Observer. This status provides NIHB with the opportunity to advance the tribal health agenda for Indian Country and bring national awareness to the health disparities plaguing our tribal communities," said NIHB Chairperson Cathy Abramson. "We look forward to bringing a unique perspective and providing vital information to the House of Delegates and assist in helping determine appropriate policy to address improving health care outcome issues as it relates to American Indian and Alaska Natives."


NIHB extends sincere gratitude to Dr. Adriann Begay, who recognized the need for an Indian voice at the table of national health policy-making. It is Dr. Begay's vision and passion that made this happen, added Chairperson Abramson.


Dr. Begay is a physician at the Gallup Indian Medical Center and is the President of the Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP). She has also served on AMA's Minority Affairs Section (MAS) for two terms in 2003-2007 as the representative for the AAIP and again in 2010-2013 as an elected Member-at-Large. As a member of the MAS Governing Council, Dr. Begay gained the support of fellow council members to develop resolutions and subsequent AMA policy in support of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, adequate funding to address suicide in Indian Country and holding the Indian Health Service harmless to budget cuts due to sequestration. 


"I realized that the experts in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) health policy were missing. I reached out to NIHB, an organization that plays a pivotal role in advocating for AI/AN and are the experts in health care policy and legislation for tribes; thus it is important for NIHB to have a place at the table where health care policy is made. They are crucial in being the advocates for AI/AN and ensuring that the AMA's House of Delegates recognizes and supports the Indian health policy and its unique relationship with federal legislation," said Dr. Begay.


On November 18, the AMA House of Delegates included NIHB in the list of Official Observers alongside prominent organizations, such as the American Dental Association, American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association and Federation of State Medical Boards.


"The National Indian Health Board has been endorsed for an important advisory role within the AMA House of Delegates that will enhance the policy-making process of the nation's largest physician organization by providing vital information on the diverse needs of American Indian and Alaska Natives," said AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, M.D.


The next AMA House of Delegates meeting will be held in Chicago, June 7-11, 2014.


"The AMA is the largest primary policy-setting body in the nation with the underlying goal of improving health outcomes for all people, including American Indians and Alaska Natives. This body needs to be aware of the unique relationship our health care has with the federal government because as AI/AN populations, we want better health outcomes. We don't want to continue with the health inequities that currently exist.  As the AMA has said in the past, 'Together we are stronger' and with NIHB at the table, American Indians and Alaska Natives have a stronger voice in their health care," added Dr. Begay.


Click here for a complete list of Official Observers




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