The Rota dialysis project only needs $600,000—not $2 million as earlier projected by local authorities, the House of Representatives said.
With this, the House approved Friday to re-appropriate the remaining balance of the already allocated $1.5 million funding for the project for other purposes.
The re-appropriation bill, House Bill 14-279, authored by Rota Rep. Crispin Ogo, acknowledged that the Rota hemodialysis facility “requires only $600,000 to construct and operate.”
Based on the bill, the remaining $900,000 would now be used for the following projects: Rota east harbor ($427,000), Rota High School project ($88,000), Sinapalo Indoor Sports facility ($300,000), Rota Health Center ($100,000), Liyo’ Baseball Field Lighting fixtures repair ($35,000), shrimp hatchery infrastructure development ($30,000), and Rota liaison office covered parking on Saipan ($20,000).
The bill provides that any remaining fund balance may only be reprogrammed by the Rota delegation upon completion of the projects.
“We want to make sure that the projects are finished before any fund balance is taken out,” said Ogo.
Meantime, during Friday’s session, Saipan Rep. Heinz Hofschneider noted that “it’s not feasible” for both Rota and Tinian to have their own hemodialysis centers that have reimbursement programs for Medicaid and Medicare “unless it’s privatized.”
Hofschneider said that, while he understands the need for families to be close to member patients, he still prefers that Rota and Tinian patients be sent to Saipan, which has an already established hemodialysis program that meets federal requirements.
“We have enough facilities on Saipan,” he said, citing the ongoing expansion of a hemodialysis center at the Commonwealth Health Center.
Hofschneider favored the re-appropriation of the dialysis funding, indicating that it is a wise move in that the money “is a gift from Saipan.”
“It came out from Saipan CIPs,” he said.
“You don’t really need a new facility. The present facility can be equipped with dialysis machines. It’s easy to put machines but if you’ve got a new facility, you’d need specialists and support staff,” said Hofschneider.
Ogo, for his part, said that it was the 13th Legislature that set at $2 million the needed funding for Rota dialysis.
“I’m not part of the 13th Legislature. If I were, I should have asked for $600,000. I did my research and I found out that we can run the facility with less than $1 million. In fact, we came up with $600,000 figure to keep it running,” said Ogo.