Kansas American Indian Tribe Declares Health Care Emergency

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The Kickapoo American Indian tribe in Kansas has declared a health care emergency and has requested $150,000 from Indian Health Services, the AP/Kansas City Star reports (AP/Kansas City Star, 8/27). The request will allow the tribe to continue running its health clinic through the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. The tribe has not yet received a response to its request, Josephine Bellonger, director of the clinic, said.

Bellonger noted that rising health care costs and an increasing number of patients using the tribe's clinic has caused a budget deficit. In addition, federal appropriations to the clinic this year were $200,000 below the amount the clinic received in 1992 when it opened. Eighty percent of the clinic's $1.5 million budget comes from federal sources, and the tribe contributes $300,000.

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The Kickapoo's clinic serves 2,900 American Indians across Kansas and in southeast Nebraska. Forty percent of its patients are uninsured, according to the Capital-Journal.

Dianne Dawson, an IHS spokesperson, said the federal government has been struggling to meet the health care demands of American Indians and Alaskan natives. "There is an unmet need, obviously," she added.

Kickapoo Tribal Chair Steve Cadue, who is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, said he plans to raise the issue at the convention in Denver. "Indian people are dying across this country from inadequate health care," he said, adding, "It seems as though they believe a certain number of Native American people are expendable" (Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal, 8/27).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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