CHCC hikes room and board rates

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The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. officially announced that it has updated its fees and charges for room and board. According to the CNMI Administrative Procedures Act, the adjustment has been published and adopted and took effect as of Oct. 4, 2017.

In a press release given to media yesterday, CHCC informs all public and insurance providers, that the adjustment was necessary to keep up with the increasing costs of healthcare services in the CNMI. The last revision to charges for room and board at the Commonwealth Health Center dates back to 2012.

CHCC would also like to inform Medicare members that the new fees and rates are applicable unless the current Medicare rate is higher, in which case the current Medicare rates will apply. The adjustment was long coming since the last revision to charges for room and board at the CHCC was five years ago.

In an interview early this month, CHCC CEO Esther Muña disclosed to media that they have come up with ways to increase and strengthen revenue at the hospital.

First, the hospital tasked the nurses to document every patient care given to capture charges so it can be billed. Second, adjustment of Medicare and Medicaid so when the reimbursements come, CHCC will get the value of that cost at least to a higher level (looking at 50 percent increase in costs). Third, the hiring of a charge master to be in charge of revenue centers, and fourth; the aforementioned increase in room rates.

Saipan Tribune talked to random people to ask them about their thoughts on the recent adjustments of room and board at the hospital.

According to Layla Igitor of Tanapag, she doesn’t see any problem with it. “If they are going to use money to buy new equipment for the patients and everyone here that need it, I don’t see a problem about it. The only problem I see is if the money is coming from the patient’s pocket unlike for people that have insurance and they are covered then it’s fine.”

“Now, if they are going to increase the room then they should also upgrade the quality of the rooms. Some patients don’t have family watching over them while confined, so a television with basic channels would help them,” she added.

A Saipan resident who wants to remain anonymous said, “That (increase) is ridiculous. Some people may have insurance but now they might get denied because of the increase. Some people don’t even have insurance because it is expensive to pay for. It’s sad for the people who cannot afford it. Even for people that are covered by insurance because however we look at it, it’s an increase.”

Arvin (surname witheld) of Capitol Hill supports the increase. “I think it is but normal. We recently just had an increase in wages so everything also went up. I believe the hospital needed it. As you can see, the government did not give much appropriation to CHCC when in fact millions were supposed to be given in our hospital. I saw that they only gave $700,000. What is that? This is the only hospital in the CNMI. Health is important especially in a growing economy we have.”

He added, “Right now, the population is increasing, many tourists are coming in, of course there’s going to be an influx of healthcare needs also.”

Jessica Basa of Chalan Kanoa said she supports the increase. “If they are going to use the funds to buy new equipment and increase salary of nurses then patients will benefit from it because we will be well taken cared of. The current nurses at the hospital deserve it as they take care of the patients very well and are very kind.”

Neiligh Igumar, 72, of Dan Dan said it’s bad for the people who cannot afford it. “Personally, it’s going to be hard for me to. I’m a retiree and my salary was very low. I’m living to pension to pension every month.

“My saving grace is that I have my own insurance, Medicare, but how about the people who doesn’t have it? We have plenty of low income here,” she added

A resident of Garapan, who wants to remain anonymous, said casino taxes should pay for the needs of the hospital. “What the public healthcare should do is tax the casino. Use that money to fund the hospital. I don’t know why it’s so hard for them to make that decision. CHCC is a government hospital so the government should provide more to healthcare instead of less.”

Bea Cabrera
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.

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