Abby Roubal

Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date



This article examines both the historical and current government actions that have rendered the Indian Health Service a highly inefficient agency unable to address the poor health outcomes of the Native American community. Findings reveal disparities in funding levels between the Indian Health Service and other government-sponsored healthcare programs, room for growth in the IHS' culturally-conscious programming, and a severe provider shortage across the organization. A study of the COVID-19 pandemic's toll on the Navajo Nation and its healthcare facilities highlights these existing issues at the IHS as well as the organization's ill-preparedness for public health emergencies. Recommendations for future IHS reforms include reclassification of the IHS as a mandatory government spending program, increased emphasis on community-based, culturally-conscious IHS programming, and recruitment of more Native American providers.