Indian Health Service Contemplates Its Role In Health Care Reform

Indian Country Times reports on the Indian Health Service's role in national health care reform with IHS Director Dr. Yvette Roubideaux arguing that things are improving at IHS, but the agency must adapt to rapid changes in national health care reform and demonstrate willingness to improve. "Her assessment of IHS' future came in opening remarks of a three-day summit that drew an estimated 800 health care providers, tribal leaders and others to what was described as the largest IHS conference of its kind in recent years. The national health care reform debate is ongoing, complex and occurring rapidly, and it's not clear what effect such major changes as public option or co-pay revisions and other innovations will have on Indian health care, she said."

The Indian Country Times reports: "Positive signs in health care for Natives included a 13 percent increase for IHS in President Barack Obama's proposed 2010 budget and stimulus funds of $500 million for facilities, sanitation, maintenance, improvement, medical equipment and health information technology. ... There is now more bipartisan support for funding and other resources in IHS and for passage of the IHCIA. Inadequate funding has been a key problem over the years, and IHS has received less money than such federal programs as the Federal Employees Health Benefit program, Medicaid and health benefits for federal prisoners" (Berry, 8/9).

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