Kagman lot to be re-designated to governor’s office

TO resolve the conflict between the Kagman Community Health Center and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., the KCHC property will be re-designated to the governor’s office. The governor’s office will then allow KCHC to continue operating at its current location.

Press Secretary Kevin Bautista, in a statement, said  at the direction of Gov. Ralph Torres, acting Gov. Victor Hocog met with  DPL and Attorney General Edward Manibusan on Friday to discuss “possible solutions to the predicament that the two entities are now facing.”

“The meeting ended with a resolution that the best course of action would be to re-designate the lot where KCHC was operating from CHCC to the Office of the Governor. This in turn will allow [the Department of Public Lands] to designate the premises for use by the Office of the Governor to allow KCHC to continue providing services to the people of Kagman,” Bautista said.

“An important part of this resolution requires CHCC to waive the 90-day requirement to make the transfer, which will allow DPL to immediately transfer the property. At the end of the day, these actions stem from the overarching goal which is to ensure that healthcare services continue to be provided at a clinic that has demonstrated its capacity to provide quality care. Improving the islands’ healthcare system overall is a primary objective of this administration,” Bautista added.

The meeting on Friday occurred after the Saipan delegation conducted an oversight hearing  on the CHCC-KCHC dispute.

At the hearing, lawmakers concluded that DPL could resolve the issue by re-designating the Kagman property to KCHC.

Lawmakers also discussed the AG’s letter to CHCC CEO Esther Muna.

Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna speaks during the Saipan delegation oversight hearing, Friday, in the House chamber. Photo by Cherrie Anne E. VillahermosaCommonwealth Healthcare Corp. Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna speaks during the Saipan delegation oversight hearing, Friday, in the House chamber. Photo by Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

According to the AG, KCHC “jeopardized its ability to remain at its current facility because, based on the information presented, CHCC cannot transfer the real property to KCHC.”

The AG in his letter cited three issues: One, is CHCC obligated to transfer the real property in question? Two, is CHCC obligated to transfer the chattel property (the equipment and assets at the center which belong to CHCC). And three, will the care provided at KCHC be considered as being provided by the government for the purpose of Medicaid?

The AG said CHCC is not prohibited from transferring its interest in the property.

But as a grantee, the AG said CHCC is not required to transfer any chattel property and the fiduciary duties imposed on CHCC officials make it difficult to give property away.

KCHC will be completely private, the AG said, and will be treated like any other private clinic for the purposes of participation in the Medicaid program.

The AG said had CHCC exercised due diligence, “the immediate crisis would likely have been mitigated or avoided.”

The AG added, “At the very least, it would not have resulted in a situation in which the CNMI government was given 31 days to evaluate the situation….”

The AG said if CHCC wants to ensure that KCHC remains open to serve patients in Kagman, then it will need to work with KCHC — but CHCC cannot just transfer property.

“It is clear that there is very little that can be done to preserve the CHCC-KCHC partnership on the same terms. CHCC has already taken the most appropriate action by bringing the grantor’s attention to the shortcomings in KCHC’s [grant] application. There is no guarantee, however, that this will result in the grant getting amended,” the AG said.

In her May 4, 2018 letter to Saipan lawmakers, CHCC CEO Esther Muna said “[a]lthough the [AG] pointed out…that CHCC is partly to blame for a lack of vigilance with the grant application process for the competitive award, we disagree because a CHCC employee who was responsible for submitting that application deliberately prevented CHCC from competing in the first place.  Because of the action of this employee, CHCC did not submit an application for the competitive grant. It remains unclear why these grant application plans were kept secret from CHCC board and management. The lack of planning and scant communication about the KCHC’s independent application after a five-year partnership [with CHCC] begs the question of underlying motivations.”

Muna did not mention the name of the “CHCC employee.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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