April Kyle, CEO and president of Southcentral Foundation (SCF) in Alaska, opened the 2023 Alaska State of Reform Conference last month with remarks about the history of the state’s tribal healthcare system and its current work. SCF works to provide personalized, patient-forward care to its clients.
The Indian Health Service (IHS) system was launched with a treaty agreement with the US government. However, after tribal leaders determined that federal control of the IHS was harming Native communities, the US government passed the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975.
“In Alaska, all across the state, leaders came together and said, ‘We think we can do this better. We want to operate our own healthcare system.’”
Now, the tribal healthcare system in Alaska is controlled by community members rather than one entity.
“Every region has the opportunity to have local control of how they develop their own healthcare system, and they all look a little bit different. But through self determination, local design of healthcare is able to best meet the needs of the people and communities in its area.”
Kyle also spoke about the importance of building behavioral health supports in Alaska in order to provide its people with a comprehensive system of care.
“I know we have not invested, as a system, as a state, as a nation, in really having all of the services that people need. Really having the continuum [of care], having earlier interventions, having interventions locally in people’s communities so that when somebody says ‘I need help,’ 100% of the time we can say, ‘Yes, we have that service.’ We have to keep building this; [behavioral health] is our fastest growing division.”
You can watch the full keynote above.