The sequester will impose cuts of 5 percent across the Indian Health Service, the modestly financed agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides basic health care to two million American Indians and native Alaskans. It is underfinanced for its mission and cannot tolerate more deprivation.
Here lies a little-noticed example of moral abdication. The biggest federal health and safety-net programs — Social Security, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income, and veterans’ compensation and health benefits — are all exempt from sequestration. But the Indian Health Service is not.