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CMS gives CHCC five-month extension

THE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or CMS has granted the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. another five months to comply with Medicare’s conditions of participation.

“Due to the extent of the deficiencies, the complexity of making fundamental, systematic changes, and in recognition as well of the importance of maintaining access to hospital services for CNMI residents, CMS has decided to allow CHCC additional time to demonstrate the capacity and commitment to achieve and sustain compliance with all Medicare hospital conditions of participation…. We are hereby extending the prospective date for termination of the hospital’s Medicare-provider agreement to Jan. 31, 2018,” wrote CMS official Rufus Arther in a letter to CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna dated July 28, 2017.

In an interview, Muna said CMS recognizes that it takes time to see measurable progress.

“That is the reason they are giving us more time because they know that we are trying to change the system,” she added.

The first termination notice was issued in 2011, but CMS wanted to give them a chance, she said.

A major concern back then, Muna said, was that the hospital could not conduct laboratory tests.

“What they [CMS] saw was a   system that was collapsing because we didn’t have the money to pay for the lab tests. We couldn’t pay for the things we needed to conduct lab work at the hospital. They said either fix this or we will terminate you,” she added.

Muna said they now have a working laboratory, and they have also fixed the equipment that was not working in the operating room.

“It was not easy, but we managed to do it,” she said, adding that they have also maintained a good relationship with their vendors/contractors.

In the letter, Arther said CMS was aware that CHCC recently retained the services of an outside expert to work with the hospital to identify system improvements that will help CHCC comply with Medicare conditions of participation.

“Please bear in mind that although CMS will continue to consult with CHCC concerning compliance matters, ultimately it is CHCC’s responsibility to ensure that the facility complies with Medicare requirements. Accordingly, if compliance cannot be verified prior to Jan. 31, 2018, we will proceed with the termination action,” Arther added.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/97415-cms-gives-chcc-five-month-extension

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