The Senate Indian Affairs Committee hosted a hearing to learn about suggestions for improving the nations American Indian healthcare system. According to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who opened the hearing, estimates show that the Indian Health Service, an HHS agency, is funded at about 52% of need. We must do something to address the appalling health statistics among Native Americans, Tester said. He added that American Indian women in Montana have a median life expectancy of 64 years compared with the average of 81 years for the general population. Type 2 diabetes, infant mortality and suicide rates are also higher in the American Indian population as compared with the general population, Tester said. IHS is a big recipient of both federal stimulus money and a proposed budget boost (June 1, p. 6). The purpose of the hearing was to inform committee members before they draft a concept paper that they will send to tribes for review and reaction, said Barry Piatt, spokesman for the committee. Piatt said that the committee could introduce a new Indian Healthcare Improvement Act next month. Last year, the Senate passed the act, but the House did not approve the bill. Paul Carlton, a physician and retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Air Force, testified before the committee about strategies used in Iraq that could be applied to the Indian Health Service to improve services, such as using mobile surgical vans.
Late News: Senate committee holds hearing on American Indian health
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