Chairman Hoeven convenes nomination hearing for Director of the Indian Health Service

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today convened a hearing on President Trump’s nomination of Rear Admiral Michael D. Weahkee, of New Mexico, to serve as Director of the Indian Health Service (IHS) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“Today, the Committee heard from President Trump’s nominee, Rear Admiral Michael D. Weahkee, to serve as the Director of the Indian Health Service,” said Hoeven. “Rear Admiral Weahkee, an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Zuni, began his career in health with the United States Air Force as a public health specialist. After leaving the Air Force, Rear Admiral Weahkee began his work with the Indian Health Service. He is a Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officer rising from the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade to his current rank of Rear Admiral. In June 2017, Rear Admiral Weahkee was appointed by HHS Secretary Alex Azar to fulfill the role of Acting Director of the Indian Health Service and is now Principal Deputy Director.”

“Strong leadership from a person with noted experience to serve as Director will be welcomed in overcoming the barriers within the Indian Health Service. Rear Admiral Weahkee has put forward a vision to systematically improve the agency, and once confirmed, I expect him to carry it forward so that IHS can fulfill its responsibilities to provide quality health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives. I will work with my colleagues on the Committee to schedule a business meeting to move his nomination forward,” continued Hoeven.

The IHS is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responsible for providing federal health care to approximately 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. In 37 states, there are over 605 hospitals, clinics, and health stations located on or near tribal communities under the purview of the IHS. The Director of the IHS oversees the administration of health care programs and services within the agency, including management of the budget of approximately $6.9 billion and employment of more than 15,000 professionals.

To date, the Committee has received 88 letters of support for Rear Admiral Weahkee’s nomination. For more information on the nomination hearing, click here .

Kayla Henson is a former Dickinson Press reporter.
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