'Glenn Beck' Investigates Indian Health Service

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," August 19, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, GUEST HOST: If you want to see what government-run health care looks like go to an Indian Reservation.

There is a saying on the reservation: "Don't get sick after June." Well, we went to the Lower Brule and Rosebud reservations in South Dakota to find out why.


KATHY ZIEGLER, LOWER BRULE TRIBE MEMBER: I had an incident happen in Rosebud, South Dakota, with the IHS with my son. When he was 15 years old, a bull kicked him in the jaw, broke his jaw. Dr. Dillon (ph), he ordered intubation on him.

SUBTITLE: Tracheal intubation is the placement of a flexible plastic tube into the trachea to protect the patient's airway and provide a means of mechanical ventilation.

ZIEGLER: Without putting him out. He was still awake when they did this. They did 24 of them. It was just chaos down there.

And I got some reports, handwritten from those nurses, what they said about my son laying on the floor in the puddle of blood, crawling around on the emergency floor, while they were all standing there fighting because they could not find anymore tubes, so they started pick them up off the floor to put them down his throat.

Video: Watch the report

SUBTITLE: Indian health care is provided by the federal government.

MIKE ROUNDS, GOVERNOR OF SOUTH DAKOTA: We call it a health service but that's kind of like saying "jumbo shrimp" because the service is not there.

ZIEGLER: Nobody should have to go through that. I don't care. This health system is broke here. It's broke.

ROUNDS: If you talk to the Native American population, they will tell you that by treaty they are entitled to health care provided by the federal government. Congress simply has chosen not to allocate the funds.

Welcome to the federal government.

RODNEY BORDEAUX, PRESIDENT, ROSEBUD TRIBE: When you get a budget that is only 40 percent of your need, you're going to have rationing of health care. And that's what we’re basically happening to us right now.

MIKE JANDREAU, CHAIRMAN, LOWER BRULE TRIBE: Like every service unit throughout Indian health service, it's always — you know — don't get sick after June, because there's no money left to provide services. And it's pretty much that way all the time.

LEONARD WRIGHT, COUNCIL MEMBER, ROSEBUD TRIBE: They use that phrase "life or limb" if you're going to lose an arm or you're going to lose your life — those are priority ones. Old athletes that have maybe knee issues that it's not going to cost you your life or your limb, they are a priority two. So, a priority one, based on budgets, is what is looked after.

Our people deserve quality of care. That is what our fight is about; trying to get everybody taken care of.

SUBTITLE: Indian Health Service is supposed to have "a comprehensive, coordinated program" to provide "suicide prevention and intervention resources for Indian Country."

HOMER WHIRLWIND SOLDIER, KOREAN WAR VET & ROSEBUD TRIBE MEMBER: Hopelessness. A lot of the kids that killed themselves out of a sense of hopelessness — no jobs, nothing, nowhere to turn to.

I lost three grandsons to suicide. They did good in school. One of them did, was an honor student and he just got drunk and decided to end it. One week later, another one killed himself. It just kind of blows your mind.

SUBTITLE: American Indians and Alaska natives die at higher rates than other Americans from suicide, 70 percent higher; alcoholism, 550 percent higher; and diabetes, 190 percent higher.

LISA KIRKIE, CHOW CREEK TRIBE MEMBER: I think the main bottom line is we just need people who care. Just because we're Native Americans doesn't mean that, you know, we're lower-class citizens.

ROUNDS: Congress is not the entity that you should be entrusted with your individual health care. We do not wish Indian Health Service on anybody. If Congress can't fix Indian Health Service, how in the world are they ever going to take care of the rest of the American population?

SUBTITLE: Five years after his "treatment," Kathy's son still suffers.

ZIEGLER: He is still dealing with a lot of it. He's never talked about it. He has flashbacks about it. He told them to watch what he does because any blow to his throat could kill him.

WHIRLWIND SOLDIER: I was thinking about Obama's health care reform.
And if they can't take care of us here on the Rosebud, how can they take care of the people across this country? And it's going to get worse. I can safely say that.


NAPOLITANO: It's something to think about.

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