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March 16, 2020

Investing in the Health of American Indians and Alaska Natives

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City
  • 2Division of General Internal Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  • 3Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Health Care Policy, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180(5):633-634. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.0189

The US government’s duty to provide health care to Native Americans, including American Indians and Alaska Natives, dates from 1787, when the Constitution codified promises made in treaties, including those guaranteeing “proper care and protection” to indigenous tribes, as “the supreme law of the land.”1 In 1955, the Indian Health Service (IHS) was created to serve this mission. At present, the IHS operates 92 clinics and 24 medical centers in 36 states. It provides direct medical care to more than 2 million Native Americans representing more than 500 diverse tribes.2

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