Politics
The ongoing government shutdown will force the Seattle Indian Health Board to close its weekly drop-in clinic – and cut the number of substance abuse treatment beds at its Thunderbird Treatment Center in half.
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The ongoing government shutdown will force the Seattle Indian Health Board to close its weekly drop-in clinic – and cut the number of substance abuse treatment beds at its Thunderbird Treatment Center in half.
Credit: Urban Indian Health Institute

Seattle Indian Health Board could shutter weekend clinic, cut treatment beds in half if shutdown continues

Unless the government reopens, the Seattle Indian Health Board will have to cut services starting this week, according to the organization.

A quarter of the Seattle Indian Health Board’s budget is funded by the federal government, but since the shutdown began nearly a month ago, it hasn’t received any of its usual weekly payments.

After this weekend, the organization’s Saturday drop-in clinic will shutter. The Health Board will also cut the number of substance abuse treatment beds at its Thunderbird Treatment Center in half, according to Seattle Indian Health Board chief research officer Abigail Echo-Hawk.

Some programs, like the Seattle Indian Health Board’s traditional Indian medicine program and another program that provides meals, health care and a safe space to about 90 mostly homeless elders, fully rely on government funding.

As a result, Echo-Hawk said the Health Board will have to reduce those programs starting this week.

Echo-Hawk pointed out that while the VA, Medicaid and Medicare continue to receive funding, Native-specific health care funding has stalled.

“American Indians and Alaskan Natives, we are the only ones who have a treaty right to this health care, and yet we are the only ones whose funding is being impacted in this way for direct medical services,” Echo-Hawk told KUOW.

Fifty of the Health Board’s 180 staffers may have to be furloughed, she added.

“For Native people, we are impacted in a way that nobody else is,” Echo-Hawk said.