AS TO FUNDING LOCAL MATCH FOR MEDICAID
Finance secretary also assures 3 branches of govt will get operational funds in FY 2023
Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig has issued an official assurance of budgetary allocations in the total amount of $20.2 million for Fiscal Year 2023 as Medicaid local match, and also to cover the government retirees’ 25% pension benefits.
Atalig likewise assured that the Executive, Legislative, and the Judiciary branches of government will receive operational funds under all others in FY 2023, the same level as FY 2022 appropriation.
The Finance secretary submitted his official assurance of budgetary allocations on Thursday night to Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee chair Sen. Victor B. Hocog (R-Rota), and House of Representatives Ways and Means chair Rep. Donald M. Manglona (D-Saipan).
Hocog and Manglona served as chairperson of the Senate conferees committee and House conferees committee, respectively, that successfully resolved their differences in the budget bill for the government’s operations in FY 2023.
Atalig’s official assurance was crucial in the bicameral conference committee’s compromise and in reaching a final product.
Atalig in the letter told Hocog and Manglona of the financial allocations as compelling assurance of the Torres administration’s constitutional commitment in an effort to ensure they have a balanced budget and to avert unnecessary government partial shutdown.
Atalig said he will make available a total of $7.2 million from the Community Disaster Loan as Medicaid local match for FY 2023.
He assured that $13 million is available to cover the 25% retirement fund pension, representing Torres’ relentless commitment over and beyond the Settlement Fund’s decreed 75% payment to the retirees.
During Torres’ signing on Saturday of the budget bill into law, Atalig said the governor is commendable as his whole political career focuses on ensuring that retirees get paid.
He said the commitment continues.
“I would not commit any funding without the governor’s approval. And he has adamantly said, what can we do for our retirees and ensure that they get paid,” Atalig said.
The Finance secretary said the administration identified the funds not appropriated by the legislature.
He said, however, the administration is able to locate funding and make it available for the retirees, as well as the Medicaid matching of $7.2 million in addition to the $5 million in the current fiscal year to match Medicaid.
Atalig said they’re also looking at other funding opportunities to continue to support the Commonwealth Health Center as the CNMI still continues through this pandemic.
“This administration ensures that we keep our community safe and assures that this administration will do everything we can to make sure that we have a strong Marianas,” he said.
Shortly after the House approved on Friday afternoon the conference committee’s product and thereby passed the budget bill, Rep. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan) said the House conferees were adamant and insisted that a funding source for the retirees’ 25% pension benefits be identified not just for the first quarter but the entire fiscal year.
Babauta, who was a member of the House conference committee, said they were also firm that the funding source for the local match of the Medicaid be identified by Atalig to fully fund the entire fiscal year.