Hoeven Presses Indian Health Service to Address Deficiencies, Improve Access to Quality Care

Senator Highlights GAO Report Identifying Agency as High-Risk

WASHINGTON – At a recent hearing of the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee, Senator John Hoeven pressed officials from the Indian Health Service (IHS) to address deficiencies in the management of the agency and the standard of care it delivers to tribal communities across the country. Hoeven highlighted a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report identifying IHS as high-risk for mismanagement, fraud, waste and abuse. According to Rear Admiral Chris Buchanan, the Deputy Director for IHS, GAO made 17 recommendations for IHS over the past several years, eight of which have been addressed so far. Buchanan committed to resolve the remaining recommendations by the end of the year.

“The Indian Health Service has a tremendous responsibility in Indian Country,” Hoeven said. “The ongoing reforms at the agency must be completed in a timely fashion, and I appreciate Real Admiral Buchanan’s commitment to resolve the outstanding issues this year. We will continue to hold officials accountable while also making additional reforms to ensure Native Americans can access quality health care both at IHS and non-IHS facilities.”

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Hoeven is working to improve Native Americans’ access to quality health care. The senator has held hearings on GAO’s findings and recently helped introduce the Restoring Accountability in the Indian Health Service Act of 2017, legislation that would improve oversight, financial integrity and employee accountability at IHS to enhance the quality and delivery of patient care throughout Indian Country. In addition, Hoeven has worked to:

  • Reform IHS’ credentialing process for medical professionals, which must currently be renewed each year. This discourages qualified professionals from working in underserved areas.
  • Implement better accountability and quality standards for IHS facilities, such as the Great Plains Area office, which has experienced persistent issues.
  • Resolve the backlog of reimbursements owed to non-IHS providers to ensure tribal members can continue to access this care when needed.