Hoeven Presses for Great Accountability and Empowerment at Indian Health Service

Senator Urges IHS, HHS Officials to Better Leverage Resources to Improve Native American Health Care

WASHINGTON – At a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing last week, Senator John Hoeven pressed officials from the Indian Health Service (IHS) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make better use of their funding to empower Native Americans to access better health care services and IHS staff to report and address problems within the agency. Hoeven’s comments come in response to the persistent issues at IHS’ Great Plains Area office, formerly the Aberdeen Area office, which were first identified in 2010.

“There are significant deficiencies in the delivery of health care services at IHS, especially in the Great Plains area,” Hoeven said. “The reality is that not only do we need more resources to correct these issues, but we also need to better leverage these resources to create a culture of accountability and empowerment. This means strong leadership, retention of competent and dedicated staff and better metrics to show both progress and deficiencies.”

During the hearing, Dr. Mary Wakefield, Acting Deputy Secretary at HHS, cited the Quentin Burdick Memorial Hospital in Belcourt, North Dakota, as a successful model within the IHS system. Hoeven encouraged Dr. Wakefield and her colleagues to replicate this model across IHS facilities.

In addition to the Indian Affairs Committee, Hoeven serves as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he works to support vital health care services and facilities under IHS, as well as programs to address the shortage of health care professionals in tribal and rural communities.