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Indian Health Service makes changes ahead of big Senate hearing

Adam Meeks, left, and Ron Cornelius. Photos from Indian Health Service

On the eve of a key hearing on Capitol Hill, the Indian Health Service is making a number of changes in a troubled region of the agency.

According to a letter posted by The Sioux Falls Argus Leader, the Great Plains Area will get a new acting director. Kevin Meeks, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, temporarily replaces Ron Cornelius, a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin who has been reassigned elsewhere within the agency.

The IHS is also sending four Commissioned Corps Officers to the Great Plains to assist as "medical and quality assurance personnel." Facilities in the region, which includes Nebraska and South Dakota, have been repeatedly cited for serious deficiencies. Additionally, a "team of agency senior staff" will also address management issues in the region, according to the letter.

Tribes have long been calling for changes in the Great Plains but the issue has heated up in recent months with the loss of Medicare funding at the Winnebago Service Unit, which serves the Omaha Tribe and the Winnebago Tribe in Nebraska.

In neighboring South Dakota, the IHS initiated major cutbacks in care at the Rosebud Service Unit, which serves the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

The issues will be discussed at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing and listening session on Wednesday afternoon. The webcast starts at 2:15pm Eastern.

Get the Story:
Leadership changes coming in Native American health care (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 2/2)
Troubled Indian Health Service office gets interim director (AP 2/1)

Committee Notices:
Business Meeting to Consider S. 1125 & S. 1983 (February 3, 2016)
Reexamining the Substandard Quality of Indian Health Care in the Great Plains (January 27, 2016)
A Listening Session on Putting Patients First: Addressing Indian Country’s Critical Concerns Regarding IHS (January 27, 2016)

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