Reauthorization of Indian Health Care Improvement Act ‘Desperately’ Needed, Columnist Says
"The health issues facing American Indians in the [U.S.] make them the most at-risk minority in the country, and yet, the Indian Health Service receives only 55% of the funds it needs," Fargo Forum columnist Peter Bresko writes in an opinion piece. He adds that IHS "desperately needs" the $1 billion annual increase in funding proposed under the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (S 1200).
According to Bresko, "The Bush administration has been pushing to eliminate urban Indian health centers altogether, which would leave [American Indians] who do not reside on a reservation without access to the health care they are entitled to altogether."
He continues, "It is not clear whether increasing funding for the IHS alone would be a sufficient response to the health problems in the [American Indian] community, nor is it clear how to best address these health issues without impeding on the sovereignty of the reservations." Bresko concludes that Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), a co-sponsor of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, has "demonstrated recognition of the problems and commitment to addressing them," which "make his election critical for American Indian health" (Bresko, Fargo Forum, 9/19).