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Subcommittee Examines Bill to Improve Indian Healthcare

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 21, 2017 -

The Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs held a legislative hearing today on H.R. 2662, the “Restoring Accountability in the Indian Health Service Act of 2017. Introduced by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), the bill addresses longstanding problems with the way the Indian Health Service (IHS) administers healthcare to tribes.  

Adequate healthcare is one of the most important issues to American Indian and Alaska Natives. However, the IHS direct care system is deficient, inadequate, and is simply failing areas that need help the most,” Subcommittee Chairman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) said.

In particular, the Great Plains Area has long fallen victim to low-quality care, nepotism and corruption in their IHS facilities. Seven years after the publication of the well-known “Dorgan Report,” a congressional investigation detailing conditions, abuses and failures within the IHS, little has changed.

“Last year, [I sat] before this Subcommittee testifying on this same issue. I told you that the state of Indian healthcare in South Dakota had fallen to emergency levels. Today I can report to you that some progress has been made, but it’s not enough and it’s not happening fast enough,” Rep. Noem said.

Yearly increases in IHS funding has failed to significantly improve the situation. H.R. 2662 prioritizes accountability and transparency in the IHS, allows negligent or corrupt officials to be punished or terminated, and facilitates the hiring of more capable managerial talent.

This legislation provides thoughtful and workable measures for the success and betterment of employee recruitment, employee hiring, and employee retention in the IHS workforce,Legislative Representative for District V of the Ho-Chunk Nation Robert Two Bears stated.The bill also takes affirmative steps to restore accountability in the standards and timeliness of care that the HIS provides to Indian people across the country.”

Deputy Director of the IHS Chris Buchanan says the Department of Health and Human Services remains “firmly committed to improving the quality, safety and access to healthcare for American Indians and Alaska Natives” and that they “look forward to working with the Subcommittee on this legislation as it moves through the legislative process.”

Click here to view full witness testimony.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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