Health | Opinion

Yvette Roubideaux: Making progress on contract health funds

"A recent column on, “Oversight by IHS Leaves Money on the Table, Patients Holding the Bag,” by Lisa Shellenberger, asserts that the reason IHS is not receiving funding to pay for patient referrals is because the data collection process is incomplete. There are several inaccurate statements in this article, and I would like to set the record straight and discuss what IHS and tribes are doing to improve their CHS programs.

Prior to 2010, most IHS operated and tribally operated CHS programs budgets were so limited that they had to follow IHS regulations to use a medical priority system to determine which referrals to approve for payment. In general, they were only able to fund “priority 1” or “life or limb” level referrals. The power of an increase in funding was demonstrated with the fiscal 2010 CHS funding increase as more patients were able to have referrals paid, and many IHS operated and tribally operated CHS programs were able to pay for more than priority 1 referrals. Tribal leaders have told me recently that they see improvements in the CHS program since the 2010 funding increase. One tribal leader told me he finally got the MRI for his joint injury that had previously been deferred. The increased funding is making a difference, but the unmet need is clearly still significant."

Get the Story:
Dr. Yvette Roubideaux: Correcting the Record on the Contract Health Services Program (Indian Country Today 11/17)

Related Stories:
Lisa Shellenberger: IHS leaving its patients with unpaid bills (11/9)

Join the Conversation