U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today met with Robert Weaver, the president’s nominee to be director of Indian Health Service (IHS). Weaver, who was nominated for the position in October, has nearly two decades of experience in hospital, mental health administration, and entrepreneurship. Weaver is a member of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma and is currently a consultative representative to U.S. Government Relations for his tribe in the area of health care.

“Unfortunately, we’ve become all too familiar with the horrific problems that occur at IHS, and it is important for Mr. Weaver to understand the importance of restoring trust and accountability in the agency, particularly in the Great Plains region,” said Thune. “Our meeting today gave me the opportunity to let Mr. Weaver know that fixing the IHS system and dramatically improving the quality of care provided to tribal members is one of my top priorities, and, if confirmed, I am committed to working with him to improve the agency.”

“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Mr. Weaver today,” said Rounds. “For years, Indian Health Service has failed to fulfill its trust and treaty obligation to provide adequate health care to tribal members. The quality of care at IHS facilities in the Great Plains Region is simply unacceptable. During our meeting, we had the chance to talk about my proposed legislation to require an assessment of the financial, administrative and quality problems at the agency, and I was pleased that he agrees on the necessity of such an assessment. He also agreed on the importance of consultation with tribal leaders. If confirmed, I look forward to working with him and tribal leaders to identify and fix the many problems at IHS.”

“The Great Plains area of the IHS is a train wreck,” said Noem. “We’re going to need aggressive, out-of-the-box thinking to get things back on track. During today’s meeting, I stressed with Mr. Weaver just how urgent the situation truly is and how great the deficiency of care really is. I was also grateful to talk through some of the solutions I see ahead. The bottom line is this though: Families are receiving third-world care and it’s costing them their lives. This needs to be fixed now.”

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