VA Signs Memorandum of Understanding With Indian Health Service
November 23, 2010 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Indian Health Service (IHS) have both taken a step that will help both agencies work together to raise the level of health care provided to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans. The two agencies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which outlines a plan to utilize the expertise of both agencies for more frequent and improved:
- Coordination between the agencies;
- Collaboration between the agencies; and
- Sharing resources.
According to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, the MOU demonstrates how dedicated the VA is to the health care of American Indian and Alaska Native veterans. Because of the partnership the MOU creates, the VA will be able to offer health care to those veterans inside their own community. Further, the VA will be able to offer greater access to VA services to those veterans living remotely and in rural areas.
It is more than just national exposure, however. The MOU establishes the need for consultation with local tribal authority so the VA’s mission can be adapted to local culture. Without this, it is very likely the success of the VA’s efforts would be limited. Local adaptation will include:
- Escalating already existing services;
- Making the delivery of care better by sharing programs between agencies;
- Constantly working to develop new models of health care with new technology;
- Offering beneficiary care that is culturally sensitive; and
- Increasing health care quality.
This MOU also expands on a previous 2003 MOU between the agencies establishing increased communication between the VA and the Indian Health Service. The MOU establishes a strong collaborative foundation from which to base the agencies’ aid for these veterans.