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Rounds IHS oversight bill passes committee

On Wednesday, Sept. 26, a bill introduced by Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.,  that would require a private audit of the Indian Health Service passed through the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

Senate Bill 465, or the Independent Outside Audit of the Indian Health Service Act of 2017, would direct the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to contract out an assessment of IHS’s health care delivery systems and financial management processes at its healthcare facilities.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Rounds and the bill’s other co-sponsor, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., — the late Sen. John McCain was the bill’s other co-sponsor — said they hoped the audit would be similar to the 2014 audit of the Veteran’s Administration (VA) which led to reforms.

“What I’m trying to do is model off what we did with the VA that is leading to major reforms in VA and improving service for veterans,” Lankford said. “And I’d love to be able to see that model happen for tribal members around the country.”

Rounds, a vocal critic of IHS, said he has identified three major areas of concern with IHS: the lack of a funding allocation strategy for the 12 IHS regions, lack of a standard of quality measurement for care, and high staff turnover resulting in low accountability among management.

“The IHS will continue to fail unless we take a close look into the operations, funding, quality of care and management at the agency,” Rounds said in a release.

Contact Samuel Blackstone at samuel.blackstone@rapidcityjournal.com and follow him on Twitter or Facebook @SDBlackstone.

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