GAO: Health care access hard to measure for Native Americans
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Federal investigators say access to health care for American Indians is difficult to gauge because the agency that oversees it does a poor job of tracking patient wait times.
A U.S. Government Accountability Office report released Thursday says long wait times are a known problem at Indian Health Service facilities. One facility on the Navajo Nation reported that new patients have waited up to four months to see a physician and a month for a routine vision check.
Officials with the Indian Health Service say they've struggled to provide timely care because of staffing shortages and outdated equipment.
The agency serves about 2 million American Indians, a population that suffers disproportionately from illnesses including diabetes and chronic liver disease.
Federal investigators says those disparities can be improved through better access to primary care services.