Posts Tagged ‘Indian Health Service’

Mark Trahant


Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s recent book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

I’ve been writing a lot lately about the Era of Contraction – the shrinking of the federal government – and what that policy means to Indian Country.

Only not this year. Last week Congress finally approved money for fiscal year 2012 (three months into the spending year) and many programs serving American Indians will get more money, not less.

First, the big picture. Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, describes this year’s spending bill this way: “When all FY 2012 Appropriations legislation is complete, Congress will have cut discretionary spending for two straight years in a row – the first time this has occurred in modern history.”

Indeed: This budget is about less.

The Environmental Protection Agency takes a 6 percent cut from the president’s request or a budget of $8.4 billion. The House conference report makes clear that EPA is a Republican budget target because it represents “unnecessary spending” and a “regulatory overreach, which has a detrimental effect on American businesses and the recovering economy.” (To give an example of the spite towards EPA. The administrator’s budget is cut by one-third.) Of course even these numbers are more than Republicans wanted to spend. The House was proposing funding EPA at only $7.1 billion.

The Administration for Children and Families takes a hit of $855 million (even though the demand for services is increasing). But defying logic, Congress also appropriated $5 million for abstinence education, money that was not asked for in the president’s budget.

Other agency reductions include 3 percent less for the Internal Revenue Service, a 5 percent cut for Homeland Security, and a 5 percent cut from Congress’ own budget.

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Rob Capriccioso of ICTMN reports that the President Barack Obama has requested an 8 percent increase in funding in his budget for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service.

The $4.4 billion requested this year is up from $4.03 billion appropriated by Congress last year.

    Obama’s requests for funding the BIA have been a mixed bag. His 2010 budget proposal for the agency represented an increase by $161.3 million, or 6.8 percent, over the previous year for a total of almost $2.7 billion. A new Interior appropriation wasn’t passed by Congress for 2011, so the BIA has been operating under a continuing resolution, meaning the 2010 level has remained stagnant. For 2011, Obama requested less than the 2010 level, proposing a net decrease of $3.6 million from the 2010 enacted level.

But in Congress (the body that appropriates funding), Sen. Rand Paul proposed a bill to cut the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of the Interior agency that oversees a variety of Indian programs. His aim is to help cut the federal budget.

    If there is any good news related to Paul’s proposal, it’s that Indians now know who their true allies are in Congress. Some of the most important friends happen to be Republican appropriators in the House. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who chairs the appropriations panel overseeing the Interior Department, recently told the AP that the BIA and IHS are “programs he wants to try to protect.” And Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, chair of the Indian affairs subcommittee in the House, while skeptical of BIA, thinks the agency should be reformed, not eliminated.

Jenna Cederberg

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Mike Trahant

Mike Trahant


Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s recent book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

Journalists like me have played the role of Chicken Little for many years. We have written dozens of stories about the consequences of an election, predicting what will happen after Republicans win and fulfill their promises to drastically cut government.

Only very little happened. Sure, there were significant budget cuts and restructuring of programs under President Ronald Reagan, but by and large no president or Congress has yet changed the nature of the federal government.

The fact is we still don’t know if this election cycle (or the next one) will be depart from that storyline. We still don’t know what kind of votes the Republicans can round up to make the really difficult decisions about which government programs are effective and which ones should be scuttled.

Unfortunately the budget cutting game, so far, isn’t being thought through with much precision. The Republican Study Committee, for example, is suggesting eventually rolling back the federal budget to fiscal year 2006 levels. That represents as much as a $2.5 trillion over the next five years. Their plan cuts $100 billion from spending this year, an idea that’s already being dismissed by House Budget boss Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).

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Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant


Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s new book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

The election is over. Now what? What are the next steps when it comes to health care reform? Just what did the people say Nov. 2?

As you would expect there is no agreed answers. Republicans say this election was about health care. Tea party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S. C., said on NBC’s Meet the Press this weekend. “We have to stop the funding of Obamacare and over the next two years show the American people what the real options are to improve the system we have now.”

But President Barack Obama, in his news conference said, “I think we’d be misreading the election if we thought that the American people want to see us for the next two years relitigate arguments that we had over the last two years.”

The polls are interesting. The Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed the surveys. “Over the course of the past month, at least eight well-respected polls have asked Americans whether they support the idea of repealing health reform, and” Kaiser reports, “responses have been all over the map, ranging from a high of 51 percent in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll to a low of 26 percent in our September Kaiser Health Tracking survey. Why the wide range? After a close look at the data collected below, our take is that question wording is driving the differences. At the same time, recent polling suggests that for at least some Americans, a vote for repeal means a vote to eliminate certain provisions of the health reform law while also keeping many of its benefits, rather than representing a desire to overturn the law completely.”

But the political divide remains stark. So we are going to (as the president puts it) relitigate the health care law.

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services filed a 200-page report for the community ravaged by suicides in the past years, according to the Great Falls Tribune.

Tribal leaders on the Fort Peck Reservation declared a state of emergency after a rash of suicides and suicide attempts by young people there within the last year. Five youths died and 20 more tried to take their own lives last year.

Groups of the HHS employees spent time on the reservation to complete the “road map” report to help stop the suicides. It does not list a specific cause for the string of suicides, but does give a list of 12 recommendations, such as hiring a suicide prevention coordinator.

    The report does not list a reason for the cluster of suicides but does point out that socio-economic factors played a major role, with abuse of alcohol and drugs and the lack of parenting skills in particular.

    “Either due to a lack of effective parenting skills, lack of appropriate role models, or just the imitating of the examples set by others, many adults and children in the community have not developed effective problem-solving skills to deal with the stresses they experience. Unfortunately, it appears that many troubled youth are passing maladaptive behaviors to succeeding generations,” the report stated in its summary.

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Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s new book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant

By Mark Trahant

Which rally drew more people? One Nation Working Together or Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor? Left or right? Liberal or Conservative?

“Per usual the rally’s attendance numbers are being disputed by the left and right,” writes John Hudson in The Atlantic Wire. “While a number of progressive bloggers claim the “One Nation” rally drew a larger crowd than Beck’s August event, the Associated Press and others are challenging that claim.”

The logic here is counting people at a rally is evidence that Americans want a smaller, less taxing government, the kind of government that the Tea Party advocates.

But if you really want to count numbers then consider that while tens of thousands of Americans marched for or against government policy, compare that to Europe where ten times as many marched against their governments’ austerity measures. (These marches, I should mention, are small by European historical standards.)

Nonetheless: Austerity is our future.

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This is one of those stories where the allegations are just jaw-dropping. The Associated Press has the story. The ACLU‘s news release about it contains a quote from a woman who says, “They treat us just like guinea pigs when it comes to Indian Health Services.”

(healthfocus.biz image)

(healthfocus.biz image)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union said Monday that it filed a federal lawsuit against the Indian Health Service to obtain information about whether pregnant women on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation are being pressured to have labor induced against their wishes.

Robert Doody, executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota, said there is no obstetric care available on the reservation and many women are being told they must have their labor induced on a particular day without being given information about the risks and benefits of induction.

For nearly a decade, women on the Cheyenne River reservation have had to travel at least 90 miles to St. Mary’s Healthcare Center in Pierre to have their babies, he said.

“There is no opportunity to give natural birth on the Cheyenne River reservation,” Doody said Monday. “They have to go to St. Mary’s and be induced, or they have to face the possibility of severe complications.”

National IHS spokesman Thomas Sweeney said Monday that he could not comment on a pending lawsuit.

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Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s new book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

By Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant

We hate health care reform. The bill was too many pages, too complicated and didn’t fix all the problems right now, this minute. (One of America’s core democratic values is our impatience.)

But the why is fascinating. Many of us hate the reform bill because it went too far; but most of us are unhappy because health care reform didn’t go far enough. We wanted more action, a smarter health care system, even, more government to make our health care system work smarter.

Yet that voter angst – both for and against – set the stage for this November election and the Republicans’ Pledge to America. “In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent,” the pledge says. (Except that some of us do give our consent.)

Elections are policy choices. And this GOP Pledge is a clear guide about what Republicans would do if given power. There are significant implications for Indian Country in this document (even though American Indians and Alaska Natives aren’t mentioned at all).

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Nearly three decades ago, Dr. A. Scott Devous was convicted on drug distribution charges.

Crow/Northern Cheyenne Hospital (Indian Health Service)

Crow/Northern Cheyenne Hospital (Indian Health Service)

Now leaders of the Crow Tribe want him out of his job as head of the Crow/Northern Cheyenne Hospital. And they want an audit by the federal Indian Health Service, which runs the hospital, citing resistance to reforms proposed by the new CEO.

As Matthew Brown of the Associated Press reports:

    Records show the doctor voluntarily relinquished his license to practice medicine in Wyoming in 1983, just before his indictment on federal drug charges. He was incarcerated after a jury found him guilty of abusing the painkiller Demerol and passing the drug to a girlfriend.

    Devous was released in 1984 and his license was reinstated three years later. But he ran into trouble again after returning to Wyoming in 1990, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. After failing to notify officials that he was resuming work in the state — a condition of his re-licensing — Devous’ license was suspended for 90 days.

Gwen Florio

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Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, director of the Indian Health Service, penned the following opinion piece on Mark Trahant’s yearlong series of columns on Indian Country and health care reform. Trahant’s work has been featured every Monday in Buffalo Post, as well by news organizations, websites and other publications around the country:

By Yvette Roubideaux, M.D., M.P.H.

yvetteMark Trahant is completing a comprehensive and unprecedented series of columns on health reform and the Indian health system. These columns have shed new light on the Indian Health Service (IHS) and how it is influenced by and impacted by the rest of the U.S. healthcare system. These columns were made more timely and relevant by the historic passage of the Affordable Care Act and reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act that occurred during Mr. Trahant’s work this past year

These columns have helped put the spotlight on the IHS, which is a health care system that serves 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives from 564 Tribes in 35 states. The IHS rarely is mentioned in the national media, but it serves a critically important role to address the health disparities faced by American Indians and Alaska Natives. Many Americans do not understand the role of this health care system, or the treaty obligations and trust responsibilities that led to its formation over 50 years ago.

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