Senator Mike Rounds spoke in support of his legislation, the Independent Outside Audit of the Indian Health Service Act of 2017, during a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing in Washington on Wednesday.
Rounds says since taking office in 2015, he has been analyzing IHS and its shortcomings.
He says there are three primary areas of concern, including no funding allocation strategy for the 12 IHS regions, no standard of quality measurement, and the high turnover rate of staff resulting in low accountability amongst management.
Rounds says investing more taxpayer money into a dysfunctional system will only compound the problem.
Sen. Mike Rounds says, "Tribal members are suffering and even dying due to inadequate and disgraceful care. IHS will only continue to fail until we take a close look into the operations, funding, quality of care, and management at IHS. I believe that a comprehensive assessment of IHS is a necessary first step to making calculated and systematic changes at IHS."
Rounds says among the 12 IHS service areas in the United States, the IHS Great Plains Area, which serves South Dakota tribal members has the worst health care inconsistencies of all IHS regions.
He says that includes the lowest life expectancy, and the highest diabetes death rate which is five times the U.S. average.
Rounds says this legislation is the first step toward setting us on a path to address the agency's longstanding failures.