- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, July 30, 2014

Resolve problems at the IHS

Problems at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers get all the attention, but similar stories of neglect at Indian Health Services clinics go virtually unnoticed.

Last week, the Unified Tribal Health Board met in Rapid City to discuss failures of the IHS in the Great Plains region. In attendance were members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe and other tribes, and representatives from South Dakota’s congressional delegation - Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D.

Testimony heard at the July 18 meeting included stories about inadequate treatment at IHS facilities, and allegations about cutting corners and misdiagnosing ailments to save money that could then be spent on IHS employee bonuses.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is the same type of complaints about treatment and operations at VA medical care facilities.

The Aberdeen Area Office in Aberdeen oversees 19 IHS units and tribal-managed facilities that provide health care to about 122,000 Native Americans in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, including seven hospitals, eight health centers and several smaller satellite clinics.

For tribal members on and off the reservations, Indian Health Services provides their primary medical care. It’s vital that the care they receive is responsive to their medical needs, and that IHS doesn’t cut corners unnecessarily to save money.

The problems aired at the Unified Tribal Health Board meeting are not the result of recent failings at the IHS, but are representative of complaints that have been raised repeatedly over the years against the federal health care program for Native Americans. In 2008, Sen. Johnson blasted the IHS in an oversight committee hearing for the agency’s “Priority One” policy that denies some treatments if they are not life-threatening. It appears that the IHS has not changed its approach to health care.

The VA scandal has prompted promises by members of Congress to ensure that veterans receive the care that they have been promised. The same concern should be provided to ensure that Native Americans receive adequate health care from the IHS.

Congress has oversight over the IHS and South Dakota’s congressional delegation should take the lead in helping to improve health care for Native Americans.

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The Daily Republic, Mitchell, July 29, 2014

Miller Classic game plan has worked, so don’t change it

In the inaugural year of the Mike Miller Classic basketball event, a massive winter storm rolled into Mitchell. That was in 2010, when a late-December blizzard brought cold, wind and about 10 inches of snow in two days.

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