The Commonwealth Health Care Corp. is aware of its debt with the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. and is looking into ways to resolve this matter. In an email interview with CHCC spokesperson Zoe Travis, she said CHCC reiterates its appreciation that CUC continues to work with them to find a solution regarding CHCC’s debt.
“The CHCC would once again like to stress that a number of factors out of the control of the CHCC are affecting our ability to pay [the debt],” she said. Factors that contribute are the lack of employee-sponsored insurance in the CNMI, which leads to the growing uninsured population. In addition to the uninsured population, Travis said that many uninsured patients are unable to qualify for Medicaid services because they are under CW-1 visas.
“We want to stress the urgent need for the government and private sector to work together on a solution, which will go a long way toward ensuring that all CNMI residents can afford medical care,” Travis said.
CUC previously reported the utility billing of CHCC has reached over $32 million, and urged that CHCC pays at least $400,000 a month. CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho told Saipan Tribune on Nov. 13, that they did send CHCC CEO Esther Muña a notice of CHCC needing to pay the minimum. Travis confirmed the CHCC’s cooperation with CUC, and CHCC is looking for ways to heed CUC’s request.
Last Oct. 2, CHCC paid CUC $200,000 when Camacho discussed with Muña about the CHCC’s ongoing delinquent account. He said CUC is aware of the current challenges that CHCC is currently dealing with and is working with Muña to work on a resolution to pay the current monthly billings.
In addition to CHCC’s challenges, it previously reported of its high dependence on CNMI Medicaid’s ability to pay for health care services, as reimbursements from the agency is about 44% of its total revenue in fiscal year 2019. In addition, without improvements to Medicaid and the cuts on the Affordable Care Act, the CNMI government will need to make significant contributions on funding the Medicaid program, which could lead to significant drawbacks on funding for CHCC’s ability to deal with the debt.