- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Gov. Steve Bullock has signed an executive order to establish a state Office of American Indian Health, saying the current health care system in Indian Country limits access to quality health care services and providers.

Bullock issued the directive Tuesday afternoon with tribal leaders at the conclusion of the Montana Tribal Leaders’ Summit at the Capitol.

The office will consist of one new full-time employee in the Department of Public Health and Human Services. Officials say they don’t know yet how much it will cost the state.

Montana tribal leaders last year pressed officials to overhaul the federal health care system for Native Americans, citing a shortage of trained medical personnel and misdiagnosed illnesses among problems they’ve experienced.

The average life expectancy for American Indians in Montana is 20 years shorter than for non-Indians.

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