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US Has Obligation To Improve Health Care For American Indians

Armen Hareyan's picture

The U.S. "has a trust responsibility for the health of AmericanIndians, and it's long past time we own up to that responsibility,"Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, writes in an Indian Country Today opinion piece.

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Dorgan calls for increased funding and "continuous innovation." He points out that in 2005, federal expenditures for Indian Health Service were $2,130 per capita, compared with $6,784 for Medicare and $4,653 for the Veterans Administration.He writes that this "means we have a full-scale 'health care rationing'for American Indians, and it has to stop. We need to meet ourobligations."

According to Dorgan, it has been eight years sinceCongress has taken any action to improve American Indian health care.This year, lawmakers are considering reauthorizing the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (HR 1328/S 1200), which would develop a new type of clinic and launch an effort toaddress suicide among American Indian teenagers. Dorgan says thelegislation "is just a first step" (Dorgan, Indian Country Today, 12/7).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly HealthDisparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of TheHenry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.