The Argus Leader is covering Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s comprehensive measure to overhaul the IHS system – something that’s been long overdue:
Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said she plans to bring a bill that will address contracting, recruitment, billing and accountability at the federal agency following reports that indicated two reservation hospitals in South Dakota provided fatally flawed health care.
“We’ve known for decades that IHS was not meeting the needs of Native American residents in the region,” Noem said in an interview with Argus Leader Media, “but we haven’t seen reforms put into place that we know will really create positive change. That’s why this bill is so thorough, so we can have real solutions, not just a fix.”
Noem’s broad legislation would cut red tape to allow the agency to more easily enter into long-term contracts for care services and faster hiring, to provide additional recruitment incentives like removing taxes on student loan repayment for medical staff and expanding the loan repayment program to include management staff.
It would also require the agency to develop a formula to ensure that areas with the most critical need get more funding for care accessed at non-IHS hospitals, negotiate Medicare-like rates for services from private providers and pay back private providers for any backlogged health care bills.
“I’m just not going to leave this in their hands to decide what’s right,” Noem said, “because they haven’t been able to do that.”