Harlan McKosato: Indian Health Service is in danger under President Trump

The Fort Defiance Indian Hospital is an Indian Health Service facility in Fort Defiance, Arizona. Photo: IHS Dental Careers

In his first full week in office, Republican President Donald Trump has proven that anything can happen. So when it comes to the Indian Health Service, should tribal citizens be worried? Radio show host Harlan McKosato calls for unity to prevent cuts in service and funding at the beleaguered agency:
A lot of tribal people I’ve been talking to lately believe that the Indian Health Care Improvement Act is in peril (that includes the Indian Health Service) because it is intertwined with the Affordable Care Act. They say, “Do you know what would happen if the Trump administration pulls that funding?” The National Indian Health Board was quoted in USA Today last week warning that it would be catastrophic.

People I know who work for the Indian Health Service are nervous that the Trump team might even go so far as trying to eliminate all funding for the Indian Health Service – which provides health care services to 2.2 million people. Many are worried about their jobs. Although we like to poke fun at Indian Health Service sometimes, and there are certainly legitimate gripes about the care provided by our Indian clinics and hospitals, the question we have to ask ourselves is, “What would we do without Indian Health Service?”

Some Native people are fortunate enough to have private insurance to cover their health care needs, but nearly all of us have loved ones who do not, and there is a huge reliance on Indian Health Service. The Indian Health Care Improvement Act made Indian Health Service more effective because the agency has been historically underfunded and, in my estimation, that will continue – especially under these new circumstances. We’ve got to stick together on this issue.

Read More on the Story:
Harlan McKosato: ‘What Would We Do Without Indian Health Service?’ (Indian Country Today 1/29)

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