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Press Release

Committee Sounds Alarm on Lack of Tribal Health Care Oversight

  • IP Subcommittee

Today, the Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs held a hearing to examine the fiscal year 2024 budget request for the Indian Health Service (IHS). Subcommittee Chair Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) issued the following statement in response:

"The IHS stated mission is 'to raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest level' yet American Indians and Alaska Natives have significantly lower health outcomes than the average American, including lower life expectancy and higher levels of disease. Currently, a native person’s life expectancy is five and a half years shorter than the average American. Simply spending more money will not solve the IHS problem. For over a decade, the Health and Human Services Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have indicated that inadequate oversight of healthcare continues to hinder the ability of IHS to provide an adequate quality of care despite continued increases in the agency’s budget. In 2017, the GAO, placed IHS on their High-Risk List as one of the government programs and operations vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse. While IHS has made some progress on key recommendations, much work remains."


The federal government holds responsibility for providing health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) through treaties and federal statutes. The Indian Health Service is the primary agency charged with providing health services to AI/AN communities throughout the United States. 

Over the past several years, Indian Country has seen significant and substantial increases in federal funding across multiple agencies serving native communities. Despite these increases, AI/ANs currently have much lower health outcomes than the average American, including lower life expectancy and disproportionate disease burdens. Despite this fact, IHS has long been plagued with issues of substandard medical care and has perennially appeared on the Government Accountability Office’s “high risk” list of federal programs most vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement. Unfortunately, the president's Fiscal Year 2024 budget request includes a $2.45 billion increase in funding for IHS, without addressing the root causes of the issues plaguing the agency. 

Committee Republicans are committed to continuing oversight of IHS to ensure they are fulfilling their mission efficiently and effectively for the benefit of native communities, and today's hearing was another step in this important process.

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