Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she will launch a new multiyear effort to improve health care for American Indians, which she calls a "historic failure."
Sebelius told The Associated Press she will challenge Congress to make the back-burner issue a priority. Part of that strategy would be to recruit more providers for reservations and to focus more on preventive care, which is often neglected as dollars run out.
She said her department is also increasing the size of the Public Health Service, which dispatches doctors to reservations as part of its mission.
The government is required to provide American Indians with free health care on reservations. But the troubled Indian Health Service only has about half of the money it needs.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)