AK: President Signed ANTHC Land Transfer Act into Law

anthcOn Dec. 26, President Obama signed the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land (ANTHC) Transfer Act into law (H.R.623).

Introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) on Feb. 12, the bill directs the Indian Health Service to transfer a 2.79 acre parcel of federal land in Anchorage to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

The passage of the legislation will allow the ANTHC to strengthen critical healthcare delivery for Alaska Natives by constructing a patient housing facility on the land, expanding the ANTHC’s ability to offer their services to patients, particularly those who live in rural areas and villages unconnected to highway transportation.

The ANTHC plans for a 170-room housing facility adjoining the Alaska Native Medical Center, providing a temporary living space for patients traveling from rural communities to Anchorage. The facility will also allow families to stay close to their loved ones during difficult times, says a press release by Rep. Young.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski was a vocal advocate of the bill:

“The construction of a patient housing facility will allow ANTHC to create a ‘home away from home’ during critical times for Alaska Native families who must remain in Anchorage for loved ones to receive health care services,” Sen. Murkowski said in the release. “I continue to be proud of our Native health leaders and their innovation to expand services with limited resources to achieve ANTHC’s mission that Alaska Native people are the healthiest in the world.”

Sen. Mark Begich repeated her enthusiasm:

“The Alaska Tribal Health Consortium provides excellent oversight for the Alaska Native Medical Center–one of the finest medical facilities in the Indian healthcare system. The passage of this bill will enable ANTHC to improve the access to much needed health services for Alaska Natives and Native Americans in Alaska. The new Patient Housing Facility will save ANTHC over $2 million in housing costs per year which can be used towards improving and expanding their health services.”