You’ve heard tons of enlightened progressives wage a war against the Washington Redskins. Chances are, though, you’ve heard almost nothing about the war Washington, DC, is waging against the Native Americans they loudly claim to love. Here’s a brief intro.
Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, the United States has already tried its hand at a pseudo-single-payer system. The VA is one example. Another, albeit less highly publicized, is the Indian Health Service. (via WhiteCoat)
Based on an agreement in 1787, the government is responsible to provide free health care to Native Indians on reservations. And, as you can see from this scathing story from the Associated Press, that promise has not been kept.
The numbers don’t lie:
American Indians have an infant death rate that is 40 percent higher than the rate for whites. They are twice as likely to die from diabetes, 60 percent more likely to have a stroke, 30 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and 20 percent more likely to have heart disease.American Indians have disproportionately high death rates from unintentional injuries and suicide, and a high prevalence of risk factors for obesity, substance abuse, sudden infant death syndrome, teenage pregnancy, liver disease and hepatitis.
And, after Haiti, where in the Western hemisphere do men have the lowest life expectancy? It’s on Indian reservations in South Dakota.
I should tell you most of the (amazingly scant) reportage of the IHS crisis dates back to 2009, including this:
Recent accounts suggest the federal health service for American Indians on reservations is in crisis. Will President Obama’s stimulus plan and health care reform plans help?
A “Broken” Health Care System for Native Americans
On paper, the situation sounds good: Based on a 1787 agreement between tribes and the United States government, the U.S. has an obligation to provide American Indians with free health care on reservations.
But that’s not how it works, reports the Associated Press. Roughly one-third more is spent per capita on health care for felons in federal prison, according to 2005 data referenced by the AP. The system’s ineffectiveness has yielded a common refrain on reservations of “don’t get sick after June,” because that‘s when federal funds run out.
Does the age of the coverage mean that the beneficent Obama administration has solved the IHS problems it failed to solve in the VA? Uh, no. Typically, the O administration has made things worse.
Murkowski “Incredulous” at Indian Health Service’s Failure to Fully Fund Native Health Clinic Contracts
“I Feel Like I Am Fighting the Administration” to Abide by Supreme Court Ruling
WASHINGTON, DC — Senator Lisa Murkowski today had a candid exchange with the Director of the Indian Health Service over the Obama administration’s continuing refusal to fully fund the contract support costs for tribal health care providers nationwide, saying she is “incredulous that we are still living through this” fight. Contract support costs are the operational costs of tribes to manage tribal health programs –including personal management systems, liability insurance, and facility support costs. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in the case Ramah vs Salazar that tribes should be fully compensated to for the operation of self-governance contracts in delivering the promises of the Federal trust responsibility.
Murkowski also rebuffed President Obama’s recent comments at the White House Tribal Nations Summit acknowledging his administration is shortchanging native tribes but seeking answers. “I went to the summit to focus on what the President would say about Contract Support Costs. The President said ‘I hear you loud and clear and we need to find answers,’” recalled Murkowski in her introduction. (clip below) “We don’t need to find answers; I think the Supreme Court laid it out very clearly – full reimbursement must be provided.” [Any of this sound familiar?]
Yet the current Wiki article on IHS seems, laughably, to blame the continuing fustercluck on, well, guess…
A 2010 report by Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., found that the Aberdeen Area of the Indian Health Service(IHS) is in a “chronic state of crisis.” “Serious management problems and a lack of oversight of this region have adversely affected the access and quality of health care provided to Native Americans in the Aberdeen Area, which serves 18 tribes in the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa,” according to the report.
In 2013 the Indian Health Service was hit hard by sequestration funding cuts of $800 million, representing a substantial percentage of its budget.
News flash. The problems didn’t begin with the sequester. Again from 2009. They’re written in the history of another failed federal promise.
They’re written in the chronic under funding of IHS, and in its regulation heavy bureaucracy both of which give rise to the sobering fact that at 1,642 per 100,000 people, the death rate for Native Americans in South Dakota is the highest of any race or ethnic group in the U.S., according to 2007 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers.
Here and across America, tribal people know they must be dying or about to lose a limb to get serious care. Otherwise, their stories are of rushed providers failing to test them for potentially fatal dis eases despite obvious symptoms, long waits in clinics without ever being seen, and credit ratings ruined when IHS makes referrals to specialists but then doesn’t pay for the care.
“To me,” said Tommy Thompson, emergency manager for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, “it seems like they’re hell bent to provide the cheapest possible health care at the expense of our people.”
Maybe one day the president will read about the real Native American crisis in the newspapers.
Or, maybe, passionate progressives can take care of everything by renaming the Indian Health Service? Aren’t words really the only things that matter?
P.S. Just found this. What I’d call perfect timing. 50 senators send letter to Roger Goodell asking Washington Redskins to change their name. Youse gots to have youse priorities. Does they’s care about them Injuns or what?