Abourezk: Hope for Indian health care reform

"It's a story we know well.

We've heard it a thousand painful times.

And it never gets any easier to hear.

But this week, as a North Dakota senator told that familiar story on the U.S. Senate floor, I began to experience an unfamiliar sense of hope.

That hope came as Byron Dorgan focused a a national spotlight on the ugly truth about Native health care during debate on the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

That hope came as Dorgan - his voice fueled by righteous indignation - related the story of Ta'Shon Rain Littlelight, a 5-year-old Crow girl from Montana who died in her mother's arms the night before she was to see Cinderella's Castle at Disney World because her cancer was not diagnosed early.

That hope came as he berated this country's leaders for allowing the death of Avis Littlewind, a 14-year-old girl who lay for 90 days curled up in a fetal position on her bed before killing herself because no treatment center existed on her reservation to help her.

That hope came as Dorgan and his fellow co-sponsors of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act put a human face on a problem ubiquitous to Native people - the problem of Indian health care.

Like the hope that comes the first time a long-buried secret is told - the hope that the only course left is out of the darkness - I can't help but feel that maybe true change is on the way for Indian health care."

Get the Story:
Kevin Abourezk: Senator's Plea for Indian Health Care Reform Sparks Hope (RezNet News 1/25)

Indian Health Care Improvement Act Amendments:
S.1200 | H.R.1328

House Energy and Commerce Committee Documents:
Summary | Manager's Amendment | Press Release | Webcast

Relevant Documents:
Letter to President Bush | Letter to Alberto Gonzales | DOJ White Paper

Relevant Links:
Indian Health Service - http://www.ihs.gov
National Indian Health Board - http://www.nihb.org

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