He blasts government health officials for rationing medical services. Of course, he was talking about government health care for Indians, but still.
CROW AGENCY, Mont. (AP) _ Sen. Byron Dorgan decried Indian health services in the U.S. as scandalous during a congressional field hearing Wednesday, saying care is often denied unless life or limb is threatened.
“We are rationing health care to Native Americans,” Dorgan told officials from the federal Indian Health Services agency. “Stop telling us things are pretty good and tell us exactly what is happening.”
The North Dakota Democrat chairs the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which held a nearly three-hour hearing Wednesday on the Crow reservation. Witnesses testified of cancer victims who could not get a diagnosis until it was too late for treatment, yearlong waits for surgeries and trauma victims turned back from tribal clinics not equipped to handle their problems.
Dorgan’s comments followed testimony from Indian Health Services officials, who said they make funding “go as far as we can” despite complaints it regularly runs out halfway through the year. Pete Conway, a local director for the agency, said members of some tribes in the Dakotas receive only 40 percent of the health care funding they need.
Meanwhile, as Indian health clinics can’t get the funding they need, I’m told tribal officials routinely bring down $100,000/year jobs. Which is a big salary by North Dakota standards for administering what amounts to a small, rural community. Plus there’s the casino money that never seems to be available when needed.
So, frankly, I don’t know what to blame more here. Government-run medicine (remember that rationing and long waits for medical procedures are hallmarks of government-run medicine all over the world) or the tribal system that seems to suck up so much money with so little of it actually going to the people who need it.
If Dorgan really cared he’d be seeking to correct those wrongs I just described, but really he’ll just want to throw more tax dollars at this so that most of it can be siphoned off by tribal administrators and bureaucrats before it gets to where it’s needed. Because Dorgan isn’t interested in real change on the reservation. He just cares about keeping the Indians as victims he can pander to.