As three Indian Health Service facilities in South Dakota have faced recent sanctions from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. Sen. John Thune has proposed a bill that seeks to reform the IHS, reports South Dakota Public Radio.
The Tribal Veterans Health Care Enhancement Act would make it easier to fire IHS administrators who make mistakes, boost whistleblower protections and direct money to patient care, Thune said. He noted that IHS funding has increased 35 percent since 2008 as the reason his bill doesn't also seek to boost the IHS budget. He argues that the bill's of combination of employee incentives and agency accountability would go further than more money to solve problems at IHS hospitals.
State Sen. Troy Heinert represents multiple Indian reservations and said IHS facilities do need more funding in addition to other reforms, saying chronic underfunding has left the agency unable to offer competitive pay and unable to operate its hospitals.
Read more about healthcare providers on the Black Hills Knowledge Network.