"The Sioux Nation has prepaid for our health care. In our treaties, our Indian nations ceded millions of acres of land; land that America now calls home. In exchange, we preserved our Indian reservations as permanent tribal homelands, under tribal self-government, and secured the United States’ pledge of health care, education and assistance to make our reservations livable homelands.
Yet, the United States has often broken its word and as a consequence, the Indian Health Service is drastically underfunded. While Medicare is funded at more than $7,000 per patient per year, Veterans Affairs is funded at about $6,500 per patient per year, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons is funded at about $5,800 per patient per year, IHS is only funded at a level of $3,400 per year. That leaves our people having to endure and suffer with painful conditions that require surgery classified by the government as “Priority 2” – illnesses and medical conditions that are serious but not immediately life threatening are put on hold, and if they are not taken care of in the first part of the year, money has run out and only Priority 1 conditions can be dealt with. In short, we are always in a triage situation.
We now have a window of opportunity. The Indian Health Care Improvement Act reauthorization has been included in the House Health Reform bill, H.R. 3962, together with a provision that covers American Indians under the health care mandate and provides a subsidy for low income tribal members, but exempts our people from the health care penalty provisions because we have already paid for our health care through our treaties. We urge our Great Plains congressional representatives to support the Health Reform bill because we have been seeking reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act for more than 10 years. Now is the time to move it. At present, there is not yet a companion provision on the Indian Health Care Improvement Act in the Senate Health Care Reform proposal, so it is very important to keep it in the House bill and move the House bill."
Get the Story:
Rodney Bordeaux: The time for action is now!
(Indian Country Today 11/2)
Indian Health Care Improvement Act:
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