Sen. Rounds to seek system-wide review of Indian Health Service

A view of the Winnebago Hospital on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska. Image from Google Maps

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) plans to ask the Government Accountability Office for another audit of the Indian Health Service.

Last week, the GAO released a report that looked into patient wait times but Rounds told The Sioux Falls Argus Leader that a system-wide review of the agency is needed.

"This isn’t going to change unless we look at the big picture," Rounds told the the paper. "We can’t just go in and throw money at the crisis every time there’s a crisis. It’s time to look at the whole system because nobody’s doing that."

The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association supports the audit, Chairman John Yellow Bird Steele said in a letter to members of Congress, the paper reported. Steele also serves as president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

"The inadequate quality of healthcare in the Great Plains Region has resulted in actual genocide of our tribal members," Steele wrote in the letter, the paper reported.

The Great Plains Area of the IHS has been under scrutiny due to long-standing problems in the region. The Winnebago Service Unit in Nebraska, which serves the Omaha Tribe and the Winnebago Tribe, lost certification with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Service last summer.

The Rosebud Service Unit and the Pine Ridge Service Unit, both in South Dakota, almost lost certification but the IHS reached last-minute agreements to continue billing Medicare and Medicaid for services at those facilities.

Get the Story:
Rounds, tribes demand Indian Health Service audit (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 5/5)

Government Accountability Office Report:
INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Patient Wait Times (April 29, 2016)

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Report:
In Critical Condition: The urgent need to reform the Indian Health Service’s Aberdeen Area (December 2010)

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