Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today issued the following statement after the Senate unanimously approved the nomination of Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee, of New Mexico, as the Director of the Indian Health Service (IHS) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“I want to thank my Senate colleagues for confirming President Trump’s nominee to head the Indian Health Service. Rear Admiral Weahkee is a strong leader, who has committed to help the agency fulfill its treaty and trust responsibilities to the many American Indian and Alaskan Natives receiving health care services from the IHS. Especially, in light of the outbreak of COVID-19, the IHS must continue to quickly respond to the needs of tribal communities and the experienced leadership of Rear Admiral Weahkee is greatly needed during these times,” said Hoeven.
The IHS, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is 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 total budget of approximately $7.4 billion and employment of more than 15,000 professionals.