“Five government investigations have found that patients have died at Sioux San [an Indian Health Service hospital located in Rapid City, South Dakota] from inadequate care, are often given wrong diagnoses and are treated by staff members who have not been screened for hepatitis and tuberculosis.” – New York Times
Oct. 15, 2019
The New York Times
RAPID CITY, S.D. — When 6-month-old James Ladeaux got his second upper respiratory infection in a month, the doctor at the Sioux San Indian Health Service Hospital reassured his mother, Robyn Black Lance, that it was only a cold.
But 12 hours later James was struggling to breathe. Ms. Black Lance rushed her son back to the hospital in western South Dakota, where the doctors said they did not have the capacity to treat him and transferred him to a private hospital in Rapid City.
There he was given a diagnosis of a life-threatening case of respiratory syncytial virus.
“They told me if I hadn’t brought him back in, he would have died,” Ms. Black Lance said, choking back tears.
“Widely judged to provide substandard care … “
James was lucky to have survived that day in April 2016. The problems at Sioux San, one of 24 hospitals nationwide run by the Indian Health Service, an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services, are pervasive:
Five government investigations have found that patients have died at Sioux San from inadequate care, are often given wrong diagnoses and are treated by staff members who have not been screened for hepatitis and tuberculosis.
The troubles were so severe that Sioux San’s emergency room and inpatient unit were shut down by the Indian Health Service and Congress in 2017. Only an urgent care clinic, often understaffed, remained open.
Sioux San is emblematic of the scale of the problems facing the Indian Health Service, which provides government medical care to 2.2 million of the nation’s 3.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives and is widely judged to provide substandard care.
But Sioux San is also part of a growing trend in which tribes have declared themselves fed up with the federal government’s management of the health care system and are seizing control of troubled hospitals in the belief that they can do a better job of running them.
In mid-July the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, a nonprofit organization that represents 18 tribal communities in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, began running the Sioux San hospital’s operations.
The change in management has allowed the tribal authority to develop a plan to reopen the inpatient hospital and the emergency room, recruit more qualified doctors and health care workers, and upgrade equipment … Read more.
Yes, The Indian Health Service Is Under The Affordable Care Act
Indian Health Service – The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as the health care law, was created to expand access to coverage, control health care costs, and improve health care quality and coordination.
The ACA also includes permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which extends current law and authorizes new programs and services within the Indian Health Service.
The Affordable Care Act and American Indians and Alaska Natives
For American Indians and Alaska Natives, the ACA will help address health disparities by investing in prevention and wellness and increasing access to affordable health coverage.
The ACA provides American Indians and Alaska Natives with more choices; depending on your eligibility and the coverage available in your state, you can:
- Continue to use IHS, tribal, and/or urban Indian health programs
- Enroll in a qualified health plan (QHP) through the Marketplace
- Access coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program
If you choose to enroll in a QHP through the Health Insurance Marketplace plan, you may qualify for special benefits and protections offered to American Indians and Alaska Natives.