CHCC bill ‘pure politics,’ says concerned citizen

CONCERNED citizen Jack Muna of Koblerville said Vice Speaker Janet Maratita’s bill to abolish the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation and re-establish the Department of Public Health is “pure politics.”

“When she said the timing is bad, is she saying that this is the right time to do it, because the governor is not happy with the CHCC CEO?” Muna said.

“It doesn’t make sense when the governor just signed the law creating a governing CHCC board last year. So now we have a bill threatening the CHCC staff and management. The community can’t be wondering every year what the governor or the Legislature will do to the hospital. That is poor leadership,” Muna told Variety.

He said the CHCC staff and management need stable governance.

“If the government keeps changing the laws because they can’t decide what’s best for the hospital, then [the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS] will have difficulty certifying our hospital whose governance changes whenever the political atmosphere changes. CMS regulations are clear and stable. The CNMI healthcare system should also be clear and stable. There have been so many improvements since the creation of CHCC. It is irresponsible to not recognize those improvements that occurred without much support from the central government,” Muna said.

He said the hospital is now generating revenue. “Otherwise it would not have survived the lack of support from the CNMI government. There were many issues regarding the hospital before it became part of an autonomous agency. CMS responded to those complaints. CMS became concerned with how the hospital was governed by the executive branch. Now that the hospital is under CHCC, CMS has seen changes and is granting extensions because they see that there are signs of improvement. CMS would not be granting such extensions if there were no progress.”

Muna said people’s lives “are on the line,” adding that the CNMI government should adequately fund CHCC instead of abolishing it.

He acknowledged that P.L. 16-51, which created CHCC, has flaws. “First, it created a corporation without proper funding. The so-called seed money given to CHCC was $5 million for a $40-million operation. The government should be blamed for that. If the government can’t comprehend that it takes money to pay for quality healthcare, how will putting the hospital back into their hands make it better for the public and the community?”

Asked for comment, Vice Speaker Janet Maratita said she respects Muna’s opinion, but added that she will move forward with her bill.

“I am not toying with anyone’s lives. They can say whatever they want, but I am only for what is good for the people and will maintain my position that this bill is in the best interests of the entire CNMI,” she said.

Maratita expects the bill, H.B. 20-149, to be discussed when the House holds a session on Friday.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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