WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR), Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) sent a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) today requesting a review of the impact the Indian Health Service’s (IHS) aging infrastructure has on patient access to quality health care and positive health outcomes.
The IHS is responsible for providing health care to approximately 2.56 million American Indian and Alaska Native people located across the country at 170 IHS and tribally run facilities. However, the agency’s aging infrastructure may be negatively impacting the quality and outcome of patients’ care. According to reports, the average age of private-sector health care facilities is 10 years old, while the average age of IHS-owned health care facilities is approximately 35 years old.
“It is our commitment and belief that [American Indian and Alaska Native] patients seeking care at these facilities should receive high-quality care and that IHS must strive for the highest possible standards of care,” the bipartisan Committee members wrote to GAO. “Unfortunately, IHS hospital administrators have reported that old or inadequate facilities and medical equipment have challenged their ability to provide the highest quality care for patients.”
In their letter, the bipartisan Committee members requested that GAO review:
- The effects of IHS’s aging infrastructure and medical equipment on both patient access to quality health care and patient outcomes;
- Efforts by IHS to maintain, renovate, or replace its aging infrastructure and medical equipment to ensure that quality care is being delivered; and
- Implementation of other programs or technologies by IHS, such as telehealth or other initiatives, to help increase capacity to provide quality health care to patients.
CLICK HERE to read the letter to GAO.