U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement on the state of Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities in the Great Plains area and the lack of accountability that currently exists with IHS leaders. Earlier today, Thune, at the request of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, participated in a hearing that examined these issues and heard firsthand from representatives of the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux tribes about some of these IHS facility failures, as detailed in recently released reports by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“These unacceptable findings speak for themselves,” said Thune. “Dirty and unsanitary equipment, patients being prematurely discharged from the hospital, and babies being born on bathroom floors. Each of these would be shocking enough on its own, but taken together, along with the litany of previously known failures, they paint a pretty bleak picture of the care our tribal citizens are receiving and the astonishing lack of commitment by IHS officials to delivering the care they deserve.
“IHS leaders must be held accountable – to the administration, to Congress, and most importantly, to the tribes themselves. We need a willing partner at IHS who takes these issues as seriously as I do. As far as I’m concerned, this conversation is far from over.”
Since the 2010 “Dorgan Report” that first outlined many of these problems, Thune and his staff have been consistently engaged with IHS and the tribes in South Dakota on this issue. Thune requested multiple status updates about the 2010 report’s findings, and in 2014, created a purchased and referred task force in South Dakota that brought together tribes, IHS leaders, and private industry stakeholders to brainstorm solutions for IHS failures.
Video from Thune’s appearance at today’s Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing can be found here.