White House official blasts IHS 'scare tactics'
The White House is defending the Indian Health Service from critics who are using the agency to argue against President Barack Obama's health care reform efforts.

In a video posted to the White House blog, Indian policy advisor Kim Teehee said critics have been spreading "misinformation" about the IHS. She said the agency can't be compared to public health insurance, one of the key issues in Obama's health reform debate.

"Shame on those people who use scare tactics by questioning the stability of the Indian Health Service system," said Teehee, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She said the IHS provides health care and other services to American Indians and Alaska Natives and doesn't function as a health insurance provider.

Teehee also blasted opponents who have called the IHS as "disaster." Though she didn't mention anyone by name, South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich have both cited to agency to argue against government involvement in health care.

"Despite the historic underfunding of Indian health, many tribal entities have provided innovative and award-winning approaches to providing health care in their communities," said Teehee, who noted that Obama has asked for a 134 percent increase in the IHS budget for the coming fiscal year.

The video marked the first time the Obama administration has publicly responded to concerns about the IHS and its role in health care reform.

Get the Story:
Clearing Up a Few Myths on Health Insurance Reform and the Indian Health Service (White House Blog 8/18)

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