WASHINGTON — Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye urged the secretary of health and human services to examine the quality of care and services provided by the Indian Health Service (IHS) at a meeting between the secretary’s tribal advisory committee March 8.
This was the first meeting between Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and the tribal advisory committee since Price was confirmed by the Senate Feb. 10. Price said that his priorities for the department are patients, people and partnerships.
Begaye underscored the need for an internal review of quality of care at the Indian Health Service (IHS).
“We need to see the quality of service improved,” said Begaye, who also urged the secretary to create partnerships to increase the healthcare workforce and establish oncology services on the Navajo Nation.
Price centered his comments on building creative and cooperative partnerships “to solve the challenges that exist” within the financially “difficult times.” Price said he would like to hold future quarterly advisory committee meetings in Indian country.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the advisory committee members began working to identify future locations to host Price and his leadership team.
Begaye extended an invitation to Price to visit the Navajo Nation.
“I would relish the opportunity to visit your nations and tribes to see firsthand the challenges,” Price said.
Price, a physician and Republican, represented Georgia’s 6th congressional district from 2005 to 2017.
Price asked the advisory committee to provide their input to fill key HHS leadership positions that serve Indian country.
“We are in receptive mode to staff up IHS,” Price added.