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Representative Noem Confident IHS Reform Bill Will Pass

Lee Strubinger

South Dakota’s US House Representative says an Indian Health Service reform bill is moving quickly through Congress.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem has sponsored similar legislation in the past. The bill increases care standards, gives IHS more recruitment tools and requires more accountability from providers.

Noem gave an update on the bill at a town hall meeting in Rapid City on Wednesday.

The legislation is in response to years of reports about poorly delivered care and mismanagement.

The Restoring Accountability in the Indian Health Service Act seeks to address both medical care and administrative challenges.

Noem says her bill has passed through a subcommittee and is ready for full committee hearings. She says the U-S Senate is working on similar legislation.

“We’ve got bi-partisan support. The Senate is pushing theirs forward. The chairman of that committee is the prime sponsor of it. So, I’m excited that this bill, I believe, will be signed into law and we’re going to have much more accountability in that agency and more resources where it needs to be.”

Noem and other congressional members have introduced similar legislation in the past.

All of this comes, Noem says, as emergency rooms at IHS hospitals in the Rosebud Reservation and Pine Ridge Reservation are struggling to stay open. Rosebud’s, and an IHS hospital’s emergency room in Rapid City, closed last year temporarily.