The rate of diabetes, obesity and tobacco use is high on Indian reservations across America. And due to a lack of federal funding, patients can't always get the treatments they need.
"Indian Health is an example of a government run system in the United States today," Rounds said.
Congress has a treaty obligation to provide quality health care on reservations, but Governor Mike Rounds says historically, it doesn't happen.
"Apparently they disagree, because if you take a look at the funding for Indian health, it's about half of what it is for other government paid for programs, which is Medicaid and Medicare," Rounds said.
Rounds says reform is needed but is afraid if Congress passes a government run health care system, all South Dakotans would suffer.
"I don't think you take a system in South Dakota that provides good high quality care for 91 percent of our population and throw it out and say, 'Guess what? We've decided on a lark that we're going to start over with a brand new system that has no evidence of success,' at least if you're comparing it to Indian health," Rounds said [Don Jorgenson, "Indian Health Care: Rounds' Concerns," KELOLand.com, 2009.08.21].
What Rounds gets wrong:
- H.R. 3200 and the big debate we're having this summer is about reforming health insurance, not having the government own and operate hospitals, hire doctors, buy medicine, etc., as it does with the Indian Health Service.
- Rounds contradicts his own argument: he says the fact that Uncle Sam doesn't give IHS enough funding shows Uncle Sam can't do health care, but then he acknowledges that government manages to fund other health care programs at double the IHS levels. Which is it, Governor Rounds: can government find the funding for health care or not?
- If IHS lacks funding, it's because its "customers," American Indians, comprise less than 2% of the population and have little political clout. The customers of Medicare comprise 13% of the population—that proportion could double as baby boomers retire—and they have disproportionate political clout (old folks vote!)
- "No evidence of success"?! Right: dozens of other indutrialized countries using some form of public health insurance and achieving cost savings and longer life spans are just left-wing propaganda. The public option in the city of San Francisco that has insured more people without knocking private insurers out of the market is a figment of our imagination (although the NYTimes op-ed touting San Francisco's success was written by William Dow, a former member of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisors).