Axios' Caitlin Owens (left) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.). Photo: Axios

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) at an Axios event on Wednesday advocated for better technology and more funding for the Indian Health Service to fight the coronavirus, after the lags in care disproportionately affected the death and case rate of Native Americans.

The big picture: The death rates for alcohol-related illnesses, diabetes and liver disease are already three to five times higher for Native Americans, who largely rely on Indian Health Service hospitals, than for other races combined, the New York Times reports.

Mullin, who is Cherokee and grew up in the Indian Health Service, said the system is not funded on the same level as veterans' health care or Medicare or Medicaid, causing a slew of problems for these communities during the pandemic.

  • "IHS is a federal obligation. It’s an obligation but it’s been plagued with low technology, high turnover in areas of specialities and severely underfunded. If you look at the VA or you look at Medicare or Medicaid, just take those three, you see their funding per population. We are funded at a third less."

What's next: Data sharing and telehealth are a few solutions Mullin wants for tribal communities so specialists and hospitals have the resources they need.

Watch the event, Motivating Change: Solving for Health Equities, online at Axios.com.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
23 hours ago - Health

Many U.S. coronavirus deaths were avoidable

Data: National Center for Disaster Preparedness; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

If the U.S. death rate had matched that of other wealthy countries, between about 55,000 and 215,000 Americans would still be alive, according to a scathing new analysis by Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

Why it matters: These countries have taken a significantly different approach to the virus than the U.S., providing yet another example that things didn't have to be this way.

How the coronavirus pandemic could end

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's still the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, but history, biology and the knowledge gained from our first nine months with COVID-19 point to how the pandemic might end.

The big picture: Pandemics don't last forever. But when they end, it usually isn't because a virus disappears or is eliminated. Instead, they can settle into a population, becoming a constant background presence that occasionally flares up in local outbreaks.

13 hours ago - Health

FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment

A production line of Remdesivir. Photo: Fadel Dawood/picture alliance via Getty Images

Gilead Sciences on Thursday received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for remdesivir, an antiviral treatment that has shown modest results against treating COVID-19.

Why it matters: It's the first and only fully FDA-approved drug in the U.S. for treating the coronavirus.