Sen. Rounds introduces IHS audit bill

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds on Tuesday introduced a bill to provide for a comprehensive audit of the Indian Health Service (IHS).

Rounds’ bill would require the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to use existing funds to contract with an independent firm to assess the state of IHS. The request is supported by the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association,

Rounds said the inadequate care being delivered at IHS facilities across the country has reached crisis level. He said an outside audit will help lawmakers better understand where the problems lie so that the federal government, working in close collaboration with the tribes, can take steps forward to fix the issues.

“Only after identifying specific areas of concerns through the audit can we make the necessary changes to fulfill the federal government’s trust responsibility of delivering timely, adequate health care to tribal members,” Rounds said.

Rounds sent an audit request to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in April 2016, but the office responded by saying that they did not have the ability or capacity to undertake a full systemic audit at that time. Rounds sent a follow-up letter to HHS’s Inspector General in July 2016, but the agency was only able to fulfill a portion of the audit request.

A fact sheet of Rounds’ key findings on the problems at IHS can be found here.