Improve Health Care for Native American Populations

Target: Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Goal: Increase funding for the Indian Health Service to improve health care for American Indians.

Many American Indians struggle to access adequate health care services. Much of this difficulty arises from a severe lack of funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS) that provides medical facilities and health care for American Indians. With 2.2 million Native Americans relying on the IHS for health care, it is essential that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) begin allocating more funds for this necessary agency.

According to a 2013 study, Native Americans die at much higher rates from alcoholism, diabetes, unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide than other people in the U.S. They also have higher death rates for cervical cancer and pneumonia.

A huge factor in this population’s poor health is the fact that many Native Americans don’t have easy access to clinics for regular care, and even if they do, these clinics often don’t have necessary equipment such as emergency rooms or MRI machines. Even Native Americans living in urban areas at times don’t have access to the free medication to which they are entitled because only an IHS facility is allowed to dispense them. Often the nearest IHS facility is miles away.

It is the responsibility of the federal government to provide medical care for Native Americans, and yet so many of these people are struggling to find easy access to quality care. This is a huge injustice that is further harming a population that is already marginalized through poverty and discrimination. Please show your support for the Native American populations of the U.S. by demanding that the federal government allocate more funds for their health care services.


Dear Secretary Burwell,

There is currently a large disparity in the U.S. in the accessibility and quality of health care between Native American populations and other Americans. A recent study showed that only $2,849 was spent per person on Native American health care, as opposed to the $7,717 spent for other people in the U.S., despite the fact that Native American populations struggle from much higher rates of illness and overall poor health. This lack of ample funding for the health care of Native American populations is unjust and inhumane, and I am requesting that you and the Department of Health and Human Services begin allocating more funds to the Indian Health Service as soon as possible.

Accessing health care is extremely difficult for Native Americans whether they live on a reservation or in an urban area. For those on a reservation, the nearest clinic is often hours away and often doesn’t have necessary equipment such as an emergency room or an MRI machine. For those in urban areas, it is often difficult to access the free medication they are entitled to because they can only access it at an IHS facility back on a reservation. Many of these people don’t have the time or the funds to make these long trips on a regular basis, which leads to many of them going without the care they need to maintain their health.

With Native Americans suffering from serious health problems including diabetes and liver disease at higher rates than other Americans, it is evident that our health care system is failing them. It is high time that we stop the cycle of continued marginalization of these populations. Please advocate for the Native American populations of the U.S. and make every effort to increase funding for the IHS.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Sogospelman

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