Another IHS hospital threatened with loss of Medicare funding

Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota), far left, meets with leaders of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe on February 12, 2016. Photo from Twitter

Another Indian Health Service facility in the Great Plains is facing the loss of Medicare funding but an extension was granted days after top officials endured a grilling on Capitol Hill.

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Service placed a February 17 deadline on the IHS to make critical improvements at the Rosebud Hospital in South Dakota. A letter delivered on Friday, however, extends the potential termination date to March 16.

The letter, which was posted on the Facebook page of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, can be seen as a sign of some progress. Two prior visits by the CMS had uncovered problems -- including the unattended birth of a child on the floor of the hospital -- that were discussed at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on February 3.

But the letter also indicates that some additional concerns surfaced when CMS went back to the hospital last week. The extension would give IHS more time to address any new issues.

Indianz.Com SoundCloud: Senate Indian Affairs Committee Oversight Hearing on Reexamining the Substandard Quality of Indian Health Care in the Great Plains

"Growing up out here, I've seen some of these problems, I've seen some of these challenges, and here I am 40 years later and they have the same problems, the same challenges," Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota), who toured the hospital on Friday, The Mitchell Daily Republic reported.

In hopes of improving the situation, Thune has asked the Great Plains for monthly updates on the steps being taken to address compliance with CMS rules, staff vacancies and other problems. The IHS assigned a new director for the area on the eve of the hearing earlier this month.

"In 2010, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs released a report detailing many of the same issues the area faces today," Thune said in a letter to Kevin Meeks, the new acting director for the Great Plains. "Then, in 2011 and 2013, additional reports were released documenting corrective action plans, which we have now found were not executed. The Great Plains Area must do better."

Rep. Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota) is also focusing on the issue. Last week, she met with IHS Principal Deputy Director Robert McSwain, who is in charge of the agency, and pressed Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to address "mismanagement and misconduct" in the Great Plains at a hearing on February 10.

Get the Story:
Senator tours Rosebud hospital, calls for accountability (AP 2/14)
Thune calls for more accountability from IHS (The Mitchell Daily Republic 2/13)

Committee Notices:
Reexamining the Substandard Quality of Indian Health Care in the Great Plains (February 3, 2016)
A Listening Session on Putting Patients First: Addressing Indian Country’s Critical Concerns Regarding IHS (February 3, 2016)

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