America’s failed attempt at a single-payer system, the Indian Health Service

Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, the United States has already tried its hand at a pseudo-single-payer system. The VA is one example. Another, albeit less highly publicized, is the Indian Health Service. (via WhiteCoat)

Based on an agreement in 1787, the government is responsible to provide free health care to Native Indians on reservations. And, as you can see from this scathing story from the Associated Press, that promise has not been kept.

The numbers don’t lie:

American Indians have an infant death rate that is 40 percent higher than the rate for whites. They are twice as likely to die from diabetes, 60 percent more likely to have a stroke, 30 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and 20 percent more likely to have heart disease.American Indians have disproportionately high death rates from unintentional injuries and suicide, and a high prevalence of risk factors for obesity, substance abuse, sudden infant death syndrome, teenage pregnancy, liver disease and hepatitis.

And, after Haiti, where in the Western hemisphere do men have the lowest life expectancy? It’s on Indian reservations in South Dakota.

The primary reason, not surprisingly, is lack of money, compounded by a difficult time recruiting physicians and other clinicians. Indeed, many Indian health clinics cannot “deal with such high rates of disease, and poor clinics do not have enough money to focus on preventive care.”

So, if you’re in the camp that supports a Medicare-for-all-type solution to our health care woes, consider how that same government, whom you’re entrusting to be the single-payer, has neglected the Indian Health Service.

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