Health | Opinion

Editorial: Scrutiny needed for Indian Health Service in Montana






The Crow/Northern Cheyenne Hospital in Crow Agency, Montana. Photo from IHS

Newspaper welcomes investigation of Indian Health Service in Montana:
Don’t get sick after July.

That’s a sad commentary on the availability of health care services in Indian Country where Indian Health Service funding runs out before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

Montana’s U.S. Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh summarized the problem last week in a letter asking the U.S. comptroller general to review IHS performance, particularly in the Billings area, which is responsible for serving tribal members on seven reservations in Montana and one in Wyoming.

“Issues have plagued the facilities in the Billings service area for years as patients endure poor to no services and extraordinary delays in seeing physicians or filling a prescription,” the senators wrote. “In one troubling case, we heard of a provider who only sees one patient a day. Related to the efficiency of the medical workforce, we have heard concerns that these facilities are not seeking reimbursement from third-party insurers, thereby denying the service unit desperately needed capital.”

Tester, who chairs the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said that “despite increased funding in the last couple of years, the agency remains tragically underfunded.”

Get the Story:
Gazette opinion: Remedies urgently needed for Indian health care (The Billings Gazette 5/7)

Relevant Documents:
Crow Tribe Press Release | Crow Legislature Resolution

Related Stories:
Lawmakers request GAO investigation of IHS office in Montana (5/5)