CHCC appropriated only $36.4M, not $55.8M as initially claimed
Finance chief says administration’s additional support to CHCC exceeds $23.3M
The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. indicated that it had budgeted appropriations amounting in excess of $55.8 million, but the Department of Finance was able to determine that actual appropriations based on Public Laws show CHCC was appropriated only $36.4 million.
Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig, in a letter to CHCC chief executive officer Esther L. Muña dated Sept. 7, 2022, disclosed that to date, Finance has transferred $26.6 million to CHCC, leaving a balance of approximately $9.8 million.
Atalig said the administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Finance have shown CHCC unequivocal support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Atalig’s letter was among the many documents that he submitted last Monday, Sept. 12, to the House of Representatives Ways and Means chairman Rep. Donald M. Manglona (Ind-Rota).
Manglona issued a subpoena to compel Finance to provide numerous reports or documents that the committee members have sought.
Last Aug. 2, CHCC CEO Muña wrote to Atalig, claiming that CHCC is owed $34.2 million to date, and that Finance has yet to transfer to the corporation several local appropriations, as well as allocations from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
Muña said she wrote the letter to Atalig after some lawmakers emphasized with her that CHCC needs to make a written request to Atalig’s office requesting for and following up on funding appropriated to CHCC by CNMI public laws.
Muña indicated that several public and Saipan local laws, including those from 2018, appropriated a total of $55.8 million to CHCC.
She said Finance transferred so far $20,981,433 and an adjustment in the amount of $646,163, leaving $34,208,092 in total balance owed to CHCC.
But Atalig in the Sept. 7 letter to Muña, a copy of which was obtained by Saipan Tribune over the weekend, noted that Muña stated in her memorandum (letter) that under Public Law 20-11 Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations Act, the appropriation for CHCC was budgeted for $2,254,926.
Atalig said after their review, they found out that the budget law appropriated CHCC with only $708,311.
The Finance secretary said for Public Law 20-67 Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations Act, Muña stated CHCC had appropriated a budget of $10,295,016.
He said after examination, Finance determined that the budget law appropriated CHCC only with $4,227,266.
Atalig said as for Public Law 21-08 Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Act, Muña stated CHCC had appropriated a budget of $2,915,546.
He said after further review, Finance noted that CHCC was appropriated only with a budget of $1,047,097.
Atalig said the Torres administration has provided extensive additional support to CHCC that exceeded more than $23.3 million, including support for its technical, manpower, and facility needs.
Atalig said the CNMI is currently helping CHCC upgrade to an updated financial system that would help streamline existing processes within the corporation. He said such upgrade costs $555,230.
The secretary said to support CHCC in its efforts, Finance also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on March 22, 2022, with additional funding of $3,300,037 due to the financial impacts of the pandemic.
Atalig said CHCC had requested for an Alternative Care Sites (ACS) and Medical Care and Treatment Sites (MCATS) at the beginning of the pandemic, and this was made possible through the efforts of the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force. He said ACS costs $16,805,893, while MCATS costs $811,116.
The secretary said the administration supported CHCC in constructing a new parking lot and MCATS that cost $275,396.
He said upon request, the CNMI provided contracts in the amount of $1,600,577 for travel nurses to help CHCC meet its immediate needs that could not have otherwise been filled.
Atalig said Muña also indicated $10 million was appropriated to CHCC to purchase a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and hyperbaric chamber.
The secretary said this was not appropriated to CHCC, but rather included in Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ ARPA spending plan.
He said the MRI/hyperbaric chamber project is still a high priority of the Torres administration and that the $10 million is with the Infrastructure and Recovery Program, which is working with CHCC on the project.