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Report: US Native American health agency at crossroads

Posted at 1:20 PM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-29 16:20:26-04

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Emergency rooms shut down for months. Hospital policies put patients at risk for opioid abuse and overdoses. A longtime pediatrician was charged with sexually abusing children.

The federal agency that administers health care to more than 2.5 million Native Americans has long been plagued with problems.

Money, staffing, infrastructure, health disparities and lack of accountability all have played a part.

A federal report released Thursday said things won't get better unless the Indian Health Service takes a serious look at its organizational structure.

The report by the U.S. Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General is meant to maintain pressure on the Indian Health Service.

The agency recently released a five-year plan to address access to health care, quality, management and operators. It says change will take time.