Rep. Kristi Noem today met with Indian Health Service (IHS) officials and members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe to get an update on the status of the Rosebud IHS Emergency Department closure and receive feedback on legislation she’s drafting that would offer immediate relief as well as long-term reforms to IHS.  

“The closure of the Emergency Department in Rosebud has resulted in the loss of life, so it goes without saying that IHS urgently needs to get this facility back up and running,” said Noem.  “I saw today that progress is being made, although when lives are on the line, that progress can never come quickly enough.  I’m hopeful the changes I saw will better deliver the quality care tribal members deserve.  Still, there are some fundamental reforms that must be made.  The insight I received today was extremely helpful as I work to finalize comprehensive reform legislation in the coming days.”

Noem has been the House’s leading voice on IHS reforms.  After input from her, the House’s FY2017 Interior and Environment appropriations bill included targeted support for IHS facilities in crisis, like those in Rosebud, Pine Ridge and Rapid City.

Additionally, Noem is preparing to introduce a comprehensive IHS reform bill in the coming weeks.  Among other things, the legislation will offer provisions to:

+ Improve IHS’s ability to secure long-term contracts for hospitals in emergency conditions.

+ Address the current recruitment problem – for both medical staff and hospital leadership – by putting provisions in place to:

  • Allow for faster hiring.
  • Make the existing student loan repayment program tax free, as an added incentive for high-quality employees.
  • Provide incentives to attract competent and well-trained hospital administrators as well as medical staff.

+ Reform the Purchased/Referred Care (PRC) Program by, among other things:

  • Requiring IHS to develop a new formula for allocating PRC dollars.  Under Noem’s bill, IHS would be required to develop a formula based on need, population size, and health status to ensure those areas that have the greatest need receive a greater portion of the funding.
  • Requiring IHS to negotiate Medicare-like rates for services it pays for with private providers.  IHS currently pays a premium for PRC services.  Noem’s proposal would bring payments in line with what Medicare pays to stretch every dollar further.
  • Requiring IHS to address the backlog of PRC payments to private providers.  Private hospitals in the Great Plains Area have long expressed concern because IHS has failed to pay their bills.  Noem would require IHS to put a strategy in place to get these hospitals paid what they are due.

+ Restore accountability through strategies, such as:

  • Require IHS to begin mandatory random drug tests, as instances of narcotic drug theft by IHS employees and employees working while intoxicated has been reported multiple times over the past several years.
  • Require IHS to be accountable for providing timely care.

Do you want to sign up for my E-Newsletter?