Representative Kristi Noem pressed U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell this week during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing for information on how the agency is working to address the tribal health care crisis [VIDEO]. In recent months, Indian Health Service (IHS) units in Rosebud and Pine Ridge have been notified that they are at risk of losing accreditation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, while the Emergency Room in Rosebud has been shut down indefinitely due to significant safety concerns.

“The mismanagement and misconduct in the Great Plains Area has persisted for well over a decade, outlasting administrator after administrator,” said Noem.  “This suggests an ingrained culture that cultivates these behaviors.  I truly believe the only way you can restore accountability and pride in the Great Plains workforce is to change its culture.”

HHS oversees the activities of IHS, the federal agency designated to provide health care to tribal members.  Noem specifically requested for Burwell to provide information on the agency’s plan to improve the quality of health care in both the short and long term as well as strategies the agency seeks to employ to fundamentally change the management culture in the Great Plains Area – the region responsible for health care on reservations in South Dakota.

Burwell expressed a willingness to work with Noem to address the crisis and will be submitting a formal, written response in the coming weeks.


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