Barrasso Bill to Reform Indian Health Service Passes Committee

A bill sponsored by Wyoming's U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, to reform the Indian Health Service, passed out of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Wednesday, and will now go to the full Senate.

Barrasso said the bill would address persistent failures by the Indian Health Service to provide tribal citizens access to safe, quality health care. He said those failures have led to multiple patient deaths and the suffering of families and whole communities.

The bill was cosponsored by senators John Hoeven of North Dakota, John Thune of South Dakota and Steve Daines of Montana.

Barrasso said the bill will improve transparency and accountability at the Indian Health Service by strengthening removal and discipline authorities for poorly performing employees at the agency, commissioning Government Accountability Office reports including those on personnel housing and staffing, whistleblower protections and patient care and harm occurring at the Indian Health Service, and requiring the Indian Health Service to ensure delivery of a service-wide centralized credentialing system for licensed health professionals.

Barrasso said the bill is a critical first step toward reform and reversing IHS dysfunction.

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