United for better health care

Indian country always has been, and always will be, united in working to ensure Native Americans are provided the health care services they were promised by the U.S. government.

Recently, an inaccurate analysis appeared in Indian Country Today on the stalled vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. I can personally attest that the National Congress of American Indians, along with the IHCIA National Steering Committee, the National Indian Health Board, the National Council of Urban Indian Health and tribal leaders from across Indian country have all made, for the last several years, getting this legislation passed their number one priority. Their united effort has been unprecedented.

Now, more than ever before, this is a time for us to come together. Tribal leaders look to our national organizations to lead the way and be our Washington, D.C., staff and our voice on Capitol Hill and we will confidently continue to do so.

As a councilman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, I have witnessed over and over the health disparities Native people face on a daily basis. Unlike the ICT analysis, I can tell the real story of the united fight for reauthorization of the IHCIA.

That ongoing struggle began decades ago to end the crisis of Native people whose lives have been cut short, or have experienced unnecessary pain and suffering, due to the subpar health care Native people face. They are the real stories and they deserve the real analysis.

Take Marrles Moore, an 86-year-old elder of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, as an example. Marrles, who is also my father, fell in his home, sustaining extensive trauma to the head. He suffered in an IHS emergency room waiting area for two hours, bleeding from the head, before being seen by a physician. Through reauthorization of the IHCIA, my father could have been living in an assisted living facility or had in-home care, and the fall could have been treated immediately or possibly even prevented. It would also have provided a fully staffed and modern medical facility where he could have been adequately treated upon arrival.

These types of stories are the reason Indian country has been united in its efforts.

It’s time to stop playing politics with people’s lives. Native people are dying. Along with our congressional representatives, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the House Resources Committee, the House Native American Caucus, and their hard-working staff, we must stay united and get this bill passed. I can assure you that tribal leaders and the national Native organizations will continue to put Indian people first. That is a promise.

– Robert D. Moore
District 3 Council Representative
Rosebud Sioux Tribe
Mission, S.D.