From the Casper Star Tribune, Senator Thune and Congresswoman Noem had a lot to say about IHS and how they deliver care on the Reservations:
“What I’ve concluded is we can’t fix the problem here by a tweak here or a fine-tune here. This requires systemic change,” U.S. Sen. John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, said of the deep-rooted challenges the agency faces. “You can’t fix this by changing the oil and replacing the tires. We need a whole new car.”
Tribal leaders and legislators exhorted the Indian Health Service, commonly referred to as IHS, to share copies of contracts with Congress and tribes, consult tribal members before making key decisions and agree to an independent audit of the agency’s budget.
Legislators and tribal leaders cited instances when the IHS delayed notifying the tribes of upcoming changes affecting the hospitals. The examples included the last-minute notification regarding the closure of the emergency department of the hospital on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation and the appointment of a new director responsible for overseeing all IHS facilities on the Great Plains.
Legislators on Friday did not hold back their criticism toward the agency. Barrasso described some of the agency’s services as “malpractice,” while South Dakota’s Republican U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem said the IHS provides “Third World” care.