According to today’s New York Times, American Indians should receive far better care under the changes being proposed to American health care.
In a meeting last month with the leaders of 564 American Indian tribes President Obama stated: “Native Americans die of illnesses like tuberculosis, alcoholism, diabetes, pneumonia and influenza at far higher rates,” Mr. Obama said. “We’re going to have to do more to address disparities in health care delivery.”
The Times states that the health care overhaul being debated in Congress would appears to bring significant improvements to the Indian health system. Provisions under consideration in the bill could, over time, direct streams of money to the Indian health care system and give Indians more treatment options.
Senator Byron L. Dorgan, D-North Dakota, says “full-scale health care rationing [is] going on on Indian reservations. We’ve got the ‘first Americans’ living in third world conditions.”
President Obama has emphasized Indian issues more than most presidents. He campaigned on reservations, was adopted by a Crow Nation family, created a senior policy adviser for American Indian affairs and appointed a Cherokee citizen to the post, and gave Indians other high-ranking positions.
Congress has heard extensive testimony about the lack of health care in Indian country.