Editorial Urges Swift Passage of Indian Health Care Improvement Act
As Congress continues to debate the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, "health disparities for Native people are increasing, chronic conditions are going untreated and waiting lists for doctors and dentists continue to grow," an Indian Country Today editorial states, adding, "All politics aside, this has become a moral issue that must be addressed now."
The act would help to improve and modernize health care for American Indian and Alaska Native people, according to the editorial. It notes that the act was last authorized 16 years ago, during which time the American Indian/Alaska Native population more than doubled. Because of "inadequate and temporary federal funding," Indian Health Service facilities "are regularly forced to ration care," which has led to a "backlog of patients forced to wait several months before receiving medical or dental care," the editorial says.
The editorial concludes, "Human rights and dignity are at issue here; it is unconscionable to delay this critical legislation any longer" (Indian Country Today, 1/25).