Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Kickapoo Nation declares health care emergency

Kickapoo Nation declares health care emergency

The seats inside the Kickapoo's health center are empty. There has been a steady flow of walk-ins to the clinic, but the one doctor who serves the patients is out sick today.

"Health care here has been off-and-on because we haven't had the physicians here every day," patient Joe Williams said.

There just isn't enough money to fund the center the way it should be funded. Kansas Kickapoo Chairman Steve Cadue says the U.S. has turned its back on the treaty to provide American-Indians with health care.

"This obligation is as old as the United States," Cadue said. "They've reneged on nearly every treaty obligation that they owe the Native-American people."

Related content

Dig deeper into the issue; read the executive summary and recommendations by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (.pdf).

Tap into the Web site for the Government Accountability Office.

Go to the Web site for the U.S. commission on Civil Rights.

Though the U.S. is legally bound to provide health care to Native-Americans, funding for programs has not kept up with the rising costs. Native-Americans have a lower life expectancy than any other racial/ethnic group and higher rates of many diseases, according to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Yet many American-Indians are forced to go to facilities outside of their government funded clinics because the clinics are severely underfunded.

"It's gonna come out of that person's pocket and that goes against what the federal government promised they would do," Williams said.

Just last month, the Government Accountability Office found the Indian Health Services mismanagement has led to millions of dollars in lost or stolen property.

"We have Indian people dying, and now the Indian Health Service loses $15 million," Cadue said. "It's a national disgrace."

So Cadue has taken his fight to a national level, speaking with senators and congressmen and women from Kansas. In August, Cadue will go to the Democratic National Convention as a Kansas Delegate to try and plead his people's case for help.

"I wish to speak to Senator [Barack] Obama during the convention week and express to him that Indian tribes all across the country face this crisis," Cadue said.

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