The Northern Mariana Islands Retirement Fund has recently poured money into the Health Department’s $2 million worth Imprest Fund, six months after the law creating the account for the hospital’s pharmaceutical needs was signed.
Health Secretary Joseph Kevin Villagomez said the first deposit to the Imprest Fund amounted to nearly $50,000.
“The very first deposit was close to $50,000. It was made just recently. Just like everything else, it will be expended prudently,” he said.
He added that the hospital is currently making an inventory of commonly used pharmaceuticals to ensure that only those needed will be purchased.
The Commonwealth Health Center Revolving Imprest Fund Act or Public Law 11-21 was signed into law on July 9, 1998.
It allows the Department of Public Health to use at least $2 million of money owed to CHC by the government health insurance plan for services rendered to its members to buy pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
Under this law, only the health secretary has the sole authority to disburse the money whenever needed and that rigorous check must be implemented to ensure that no malversation of fund occurs.
DPH’s budget for medical supplies was cut from $3.5 million in fiscal 1998 to $982,600 this year.
Health authorities pin their hopes to the $2 million Imprest Fund to cover for the huge budget cut.