Indian Health Service employees in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo: IHS
Health | Opinion

Harold Monteau: It's time to bring 'tribalization' to the Indian Health Service

The Indian Health Service is severely underfunded, understaffed and, from the looks of it, grossly mismanaged. But what are tribes to do? Harold Monteau, a citizen of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, has some ideas on ways to bring "tribalization" to the troubled agency:
Is it time for tribes to take over Indian Health Service, not just the agency, but the actual task of providing services? Maybe there is no time like the present for tribes to do it. This administration and congressional majority love privatization. But, we’ll call it tribalization.

We all know that there are good people who work within Indian Health Service who really care about their Indian patients and other health care recipients served through congressional appropriations for Indian health care. We also know there are a few bad eggs who need to be weeded out, which can be very hard to do under the federal personnel system. They pretty much have to commit a crime to get weeded out. We also know that the Indian Health Service bureaucracy sucks up a lot of monetary resources and personnel and encourages engagement in what I call empire building, especially at the regional and national level of the bureaucracy. The accompanying protectionism encourages the politicization of the entire system from top to bottom. It becomes a political basketball in a game of who can control the ball to score the most political points, but with everyone supposedly playing on the same team and playing defense on each other. It encourages the formation of little teams within the team to help each other score or keep the others from scoring.

What is the solution? I don’t know, but here’s my game plan.

Read More on the Story:
Harold A. Monteau: Time for Tribes to Own Indian Health Service (Indian Country Media Network 7/18)

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