Officials of the CNMI Medicaid Office disclosed to Saipan Tribune that a proposal that aims to address the funding requirements for the program is now being reviewed by the Fitial administration's legal counsel.
Gov. Benigno R. Fitial's special adviser on the Medicaid program, Esther Muña, and administrator Helen Sablan said they have recommended the creation of a separate account that will be reserved strictly for Medicaid matching funds so it could consistently pay for the program's obligations and other expenses.
Saipan Tribune learned that the plan is to introduce legislation that would create a reserve account for specific taxes that will be solely intended for Medicaid matching requirements.
For example, the Legislature can increase certain taxes such as for tobacco and a portion of that tax will go directly to the reserved account for the Medicaid program.
At present, all appropriations and collections of the government go directly to the general fund and, until it has funds, that's the only time the government can pay out obligations, such as that for Medicaid.
Currently, the CNMI pays 45 percent of the program's operations, while the federal side is 55 percent.
Sablan and Muna said that once review of the proposal is completed, the administration will push for the creation of a bill that they hope would become law.
The two could not immediately say how soon this will happen or when legislation may be crafted and introduced.
Medicaid is a health program for people and families with low incomes and resources.