Single-payer and the Indian Health Service

This is an article from 2004, but I wonder why no one brings up the Indian Health Service when cheerleading for single-payer reform:

The health of American Indian tribes became the government’s responsibility long ago, through treaties and other covenants signed in exchange for hundreds of millions of acres of tribal land. After generations of neglect, in 1955 the Indian Health Service took over, creating an independent, single-payer, government-funded system. After half a century, there have been small improvements, but the large picture, as described in “Broken Promises,” the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ July draft report evaluating the Native American healthcare system, remains bleak.

The health status of the more than 2.5 million tribal members is worse than that of any other U.S. minority or majority group. Native Americans have a life expectancy of 71, roughly 5 years less than all others. They face higher maternal and infant mortality rates and are many times more likely to die from tuberculosis, diabetes, and alcoholism. During flu season, they die far more often. Indian teenagers kill themselves at a higher rate. The rate of kidney failure from diabetes is staggering; heart disease is rising. Native American cancer patients have the poorest survival rates of any group.

And spare me the argument that it’s underfunded. What makes anyone think that a single-payer system applied nationally will be given the appropriate dollars? This is the government we’re talking about.

View 1 Comments >

Most Popular

Get KevinMD's 5 most popular stories.