Reports keep on emerging to the effect that Indian Americans are not getting quality healthcare in their reservations. But one only needs to make a personal visit to any hospital in the reservations, to see just how bad the situation is. What one discovers during such a visit is the fact that the healthcare available to Indian Americans in the reservations is deplorable. In some reservations, you come to realize that the available healthcare facilities (and the services offered therein) are no better than those offered in the third world. My focus in today’s blog post is not to try to figure out who is to blame for this sad state of affairs. On the contrary, my focus is to figure out what can be done to make it possible for Indian Americans to access quality healthcare.
To my mind, the main problem with the healthcare system for Indian Americans — as operated by the Indian Health Service(HIS) — is in the fact that it is underfunded. Therefore, if there is one thing that needs to be done to make it possible for Indian Americans to access quality healthcare, it is enhancement of funding. Funding for the Indian Health Service needs to be enhanced: only then will Indian Americans be able to access quality healthcare.
Once funding for the Indian Health Service is enhanced, the service will be able to set up more (better and modern) health facilities. A well-funded Indian Health Service will be able to hire adequate numbers of personnel, and to equip its health facilities properly. Where is the money to fund the Indian Health service to come from? Well from the taxes that the Indian Americans pay, among other sources. The bottom-line is that the service needs to be well funded. An objective study needs to be carried out, to establish the true funding needs of the Indian Health Service. Then the service needs to be adequately funded, as per the findings of the study.
Beyond funding, it may also be necessary to reform the Indian Health Service. The objective here would be to align its operational philosophy and its processes with the demands of the 21st century, and with the needs of an increasingly enlightened Indian population.