The Office of American Indian Health was created by Governor Steve Bullock in 2016 through an executive order to address health equity disparities of American Indian people in Montana. Mary Lynne Billy-Old Coyote was appointed to lead the office. The office is located in the Director’s Office at the Department of Public Health and Human Services. Mary Lynne brings over 20 years of experience working with American Indian health programs at both the state and federal level. She is an enrolled member of the Chippewa-Cree Tribe.
The Office of American Indian Health will be responsible to:
- Oversee the development and implementation of an action plan that identifies specific factors contributing to health disparities and strategies DPHHS will pursue for addressing those factors.
- Coordinate efforts within DPHHS to develop, implement, and monitor strategies that reduce health disparities.
- Establish regular and consistent opportunities for consultations with and input from tribal government leaders, tribal health leaders, urban Indian health centers, American Indian health experts, federal government agency representatives and other stakeholders committed to reducing health disparities in Indian County.
- Coordinate efforts with other state agencies whose work is critical to reducing health disparities through policies and practices that address social determinants to health in areas such as commerce, insurance, housing, transportation, criminal justice and education.
- Identify and develop a list of eligible state programs that are accessible to tribal health programs and communicate such information directly to tribal representatives.
- Provide annual updates on actions taken and progress made in reducing disparities in American Indian health.
In her own words:
“I am eager to help support and foster quality health care solutions, delivery and partnership for Montana’s Native people. I plan to work collaboratively with our state’s Tribal leaders, urban communities to build partnerships. The American Indian people residing in our state are not only citizens of the state, but they are also citizens of tribal nations. Each nation possesses unique culture, beliefs, value systems, and history as a sovereign nation. I am committed to strengthening collaboration with Montana’s Tribal nations and key stakeholders so we can move forward to create a healthier and safer community for American Indian people.”
Mary Lynne Billy-Old Coyote