Admendments to improve Indian Health Bill

Friday, 15 February 2008
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) Thursday offered three amendments to the Indian Health Bill, S. 1200.  The Senate unanimously accepted Coburn amendment #4032 that will give tribe members who have been the victims of rape or sexual assault the right to have the assailant tested for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The Senate defeated two other Coburn amendments. Amendment #4034 that would have given tribal members greater health care choices was defeated by a vote of 28 to 67.  Amendment #4036 that would have prioritized basic medical services over program expansions was defeated by a vote of 21 to 73.

“I’m pleased my colleagues took the common sense step today to give tribal members who may have been victims of rape or sexual assault the right to know if they have been exposed to HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases,” Dr. Coburn said.

“However, I’m disappointed my colleagues did not take the opportunity to address structural problems related to Indian Health Services that are causing tribal members to receive substandard health care.  Congress has a moral, and treaty, obligation to provide tribal members with quality health care.

"The amendments the Senate rejected today would have given tribal members the same health care choices members of Congress enjoy, while ensuring that essential services are funded ahead of non-essential program expansions.  Tribal members should not have to wait months to see a doctor.  The current system turns away those who are most in need, punishes innovation and rewards bureaucracies for non-performance.  I will continue to work with my colleagues who share my belief that the status quo at Indian Health Services is intolerable,” Dr. Coburn said.
Last Updated ( Friday, 15 February 2008 )