WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today issued a statement in today’s Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing, entitled “Reexamining the Substandard Quality of Indian Health Care in the Great Plains.” Rounds asked to participate in today’s hearing after leading a number of his colleagues in a letter requesting the hearing in light of recent issues at Indian Health Service (IHS) hospitals in the Great Plains Region, including Rosebud and Pine Ridge.
Full text of Rounds’ statement as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Chairman Barrasso, and distinguished members of the committee, for allowing me to speak today.
Nearly 122,000 tribal members rely on the Great Plains Area Office to deliver safe, reliable and efficient health care. For rural tribal members, their IHS facility may be the only hospital for more than one hundred miles.
This is the case for many tribal members in my home state of South Dakota. For too long, the federal government has failed to live up to its promise, its trust responsibility, to provide adequate care for the Native American community.
That is the reason I am here today.
In 2010, this committee released a report citing chronic mismanagement, lack of employee accountability and financial integrity at IHS facilities.
The report also identified five IHS hospitals in the Aberdeen area at risk of losing their accreditation or certification from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Fast forward six years, and we find that the Winnebago, Rosebud and Pine Ridge hospitals are all threatened with similar problems. It feels as if nothing has changed.
The healthcare crisis within Indian Health Service needs to be resolved. There is no excuse for hospitals to not reach basic benchmarks for providing proper care.
Reports and hearings can be very good if we also help to facilitate a plan of action to remedy the current situation, and then insist on proper execution of the plan and follow up to get results.