Keep Native American Hospitals Open

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Target: Andy Slavitt, Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Goal: Demand that the federal government stop its plan to shut down Native American hospitals.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are threatening to pull funding from Native American hospitals, citing the fact that the facilities are “worn down” and therefore putting patients in jeopardy. These hospitals, part of the Indian Health Services (IHS) network, though severely underfunded and under-resourced, serve some of the most marginalized and under-served communities in the United States. Many have criticized the government for ignoring and failing to properly fund Indian Health Services facilities. It is absurd that these hospitals would be shut down by the government for factors beyond their control.

Native Americans have long been facing an overwhelming health crisis. Indigenous communities experience life-threatening illnesses at rates much higher than the general population, and are in generally poorer health statistically. The rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome suffered by Native Americans is double that experienced by white people. These statistics demonstrate the grave need for medical care in indigenous communities, and it is egregious that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plan to cut already meager funding from institutions that provide it.

It is unsurprising that the government found IHS facilities “worn down” and lacking in necessary resources. Native Americans have long criticized the government for abandoning and underfunding the IHS network and failing to hold up its end of the treaty that established it. It is unconscionable that the government would attempt to shut down these facilities for lacking resources that it failed to provide. Demand that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid continue to fund Indian Health Services Hospitals, and work to overcome the disparities between these and other medical facilities.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Slavitt,

Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services inspected Indian Health Services network facilities and found them “worn down,” lacking the proper resources to provide adequate medical care. This isn’t surprising, as medical centers in the Indian Health Services network have been routinely ignored and underfunded by the federal government. Native American activists have long spoken out against this injustice as a violation of government treaties with tribal nations.

Now Native Americans, who face health problems at devastatingly disproportionate rates, are facing punishment for the poor conditions caused by this institutional abandonment. It would be grossly unethical for your agency to pull funding from medical centers that provide care to some of the most marginalized and underserved communities in America. We demand that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid continue to fund Indian Health Services Hospitals, and work to overcome the disparities between these and other medical facilities.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Indian Health Service

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