Indian Health Service Problems Under Scrutiny by Senate Panel
VA clinics aren’t the only federally managed health service receiving scrutiny these days, on Wednesday, February 3, a Senate committee meeting heard testimony on the Indian Health Service. Montana Senator Steve Daines reported the story of one of his constituents from the Assiniboine Tribe on the Fort Belknap Reservation.
“She drove 35 miles to the closest IHS facility, she spent four hours there to get her medication and then she drove all the way home and found she had been administered the wrong medication," Daines reported as he showed the committee an email from the constituent. "She described the way IHS has treated her on multiple occasions as with extreme ‘negligence.’ In fact, when she called she told them she had the wrong medication and they told her to flush it down the toilet.’”
Daines went on to describe the Indian Health Service as a tragedy.
“Problems like this have been happening for decades and the fact that they’re still happening today is unacceptable,” Daines said. “In your testimony you stated that under this administration, funding for IHS has increased by 43 percent – however the issues we are addressing today are not the result of underfunding, plain and simple. This is an issue of oversight, it’s an issue of accountability, it’s an issue of failing to follow through on promises and basic responsibilities to Indian Country.”
Daines argued that fines from the affordable Care act were damaging health in Indian country and urged the committee to pass his bill, the Tribal Employment and Jobs Protection Act, which exempts tribal employers from the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate.