Senate confirms Tso as director of IHS

Roselyn Tso, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, was confirmed Wednesday as director of the Indian Health Service (IHS) by a vote in the Senate.

His confirmation as the top federal official for Indigenous health ends a nearly two-year period during which IHS was without a permanent director.

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Elizabeth Fowler (Comanche) had served as Acting Director of IHS since January 2021, when former Director Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee (Zuni).

The IHS, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), provides federal health care to approximately 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. In 37 states, there are more than 605 IHS hospitals, clinics and health posts located on or near tribal communities. The director of IHS oversees the administration of health care programs and services within the agency, including managing the total budget of approximately $7.4 billion and employing more than 15,000 health professionals.

“We are delighted to have a confirmed leader for the Indian Health Service, and we graciously thank Liz Fowler for her tireless service during a pandemic that has devastated our people,” Francys Crevier (Algonquin), CEO of the National Council of Urban Indian Health said in a statement, “We look forward to working with Roselyn Tso to further IHS’ mission in fulfilling the trusted responsibility to provide equity in health care for all American Indians and Native Americans. Alaska Natives.

“We continue to work with Congress and this administration to elevate that position within HHS where it belongs to elevate Indigenous voices and improve health outcomes.”

In her new position, Tso will be responsible for developing IHS policy and fulfilling the organization’s mission of improving health outcomes in Indian Country. Her work with IHS dates back to 1984 and most recently served as Director of the Navajo Region and Director of the Office of Direct Services and Contracting Tribes until her confirmation.

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During his hearing at the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to consider his nomination, Tso highlighted how the lack of a director at IHS has exacerbated the already disproportionate impacts of Covid-19 on Indigenous communities. She said she intends to use IHS resources not only to address disparities caused by COVID-19, but also to “improve physical, mental, social and social health and well-being.” of all American and Alaskan Indians served by the Agency”. .”

“Ms. Tso has demonstrated that she has the background and experience necessary to succeed as a director of the Indian Health Service,” said U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), vice chair of the Senate Committee on Health. Indian Affairs, in a statement, “I congratulate Ms. Tso on her unanimous confirmation to the Senate. I am confident that she will work to ensure that IHS fulfills its mission to improve the health status of American Indians.” and Alaska Natives across the country by providing top quality health care. Native people deserve nothing less.

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The Native News Health Desk is made possible by a generous grant from the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation as well as sponsorship support from RxDestroyer, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the American Dental Association. This grant and sponsorship support has no effect on editorial consideration in Native News Online.

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Jenna Kunze
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Jenna Kunze is a staff reporter who covers Indian health, environment and breaking news for Native News Online. She is also the publication’s senior reporter on stories related to Indian boarding schools and repatriation. His bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Tribal Business News, Smithsonian Magazine, Elle and Anchorage Daily News. Kunze is based in New York.

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