Three weeks ago, the Senate unanimously confirmed three remaining appointees of a five governing board of trustees for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. The appointment of these trustees was mandated by the passage of H.B. 19-186, HD1, which was subsequently signed by Gov. Torres as Public Law 19-78 in January of this year.
Prior to the final passage of H.B. 19-186 and during the Senate and House public hearings, management top brass of CHC appeared, testifying forcefully against the passage of the bill. During their oral and written testimonies, witness after witness presented nothing favorable about the bill but a gloomy picture, including their own assessment of a possible federal receivership of CHC. The witnesses made claims of eminent federal intervention because passage of the bill would contravene federal grants conditional stipulations, including Medicaid and Medicare, grants of which the hospital is a beneficiary.
Nevertheless and in spite of CHC management’s prognosis, the Senate in particular, went ahead and unanimously voted for the passage of H.B. 19-186, HD1. Five months have lapsed since the bill became law and no one seems interested in submitting recommendations to strengthen the practical, organizational, and administrative and policy applications of the statute.
Interestingly, however, when the Senate finally confirmed the three remaining trustees for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. three weeks ago, there immediately appeared before the same body a proposed bill, initiated by CHC top brass, making significant targeted amendments to P.L. 19-78. Such amendments putatively support the maintenance of the status quo by artfully inserting language to hide their sinister intent. I contend that there might be a more nefarious motive behind the proposed amendments, and I exhort members of the Legislature to exercise prudence and file the bill.
I sincerely hope that both houses of the Legislature would patently recognize the inherent authority of the newly impaneled trustees, who just days ago were confirmed, and allow these professionals to begin their technical and deliberate reviews, not only on the management and operations of the hospital but the congruency of the statute itself.
The proper protocol would be for the current hospital management to submit their recommendations directly to the board of trustees. If, in their infinite judgment and fidelity to their fiduciary responsibility, they determine that changes are necessary, then they are the appropriate body to submit proposed amendments and other health related needs and concerns of the hospital to the Legislature.
Pre-empting the trustees to exercise their lawful discretionary judgment on matters that fall within their legal review is an affront to their integrity, especially before they even officially organize. This practice of undermining constituted authority for “self-preservation” is, in my opinion, a subversive effort that has no redeeming value but destruction. We have enough of this wasteful energy in government now. Spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle puts it succinctly, “The mind is a super instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.”
Daniel O. Quitugua
Kannat Tabla, Saipan