Draft bill seeks repeal of law establishing CHCC

Muna says nothing wrong with Public Law 16-51

A bill has been drafted in the Senate that seeks to repeal and reenact the law that established the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and seeks the reestablishment of CHCC once again.

Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Rota) is the author of the drafted bill. Saipan Tribune tried to contact Santos but failed to get comments as of press time. The bill seeks to repeal and reenact Public Law 16-51, which established CHCC.

The bill states that “in order to develop a high quality and efficient health care system in the CNMI and ensure accountability and transparency, it is imperative that a right mix of skills, expertise, and competencies and a broad-based, balanced, and diverse group of qualified individuals, rather than one individual make the policies and decisions of the Corporation…”

Former representative Heinz S. Hofschneider introduced P.L. 16-51 first as House Bill 16-9.

The bill is said to have been drafted for sole purpose of “dethroning” CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muna.

Muna, in an interview yesterday, said she doesn’t understand why P.L. 16-51 is so bad that a repeal and reenactment is needed.

“PL 16-51 can remove me, it does not say that there is only one person responsible because that person is still accountable to the board, to the government, and everything. I just don’t understand that why anyone would think that P.L. 16-51 says that “Esther Muna” can do everything she wants because that is not true,” Muna said.

She declined to further comment on the drafted bill.

The bill’s intent and purpose is to fix the present corporate and hospital governance structure and business model that empowers one individual to make and execute policies with the assistance of insider “directors.”

Several employees and community members have made comments online saying that CHCC lately has become more efficient despite it being cash-strapped and going from some $40 million in budget to just some $1 million annually since its birth in 2011.

The bill also states that P.L. 16-51 has been frustrated by incompetence, mismanagement, and lawlessness. Earlier former CHCC doctor, Dr. Grant E. Walker, issued a letter to the editor noting that P.L. 16-51 “is currently undergoing review to remove the one-person dictator-like control—the position of the CEO at CHCC.”

The bill also seeks to change the now advisory board to a governing board. It will become a seven-member board. Four representing the general public, one from Rota, one from Tinian, and two from Saipan, while three members would from the medical profession of which two are CNMI licensed physician and one is a CNMI licensed nurse.

The proposed board will be able to oversee the operations of CHCC, develop, implement and adhere policies, and other duties of a governing board.

This bill shows that overall operation of the hospital is spread among the board members, and its executives such as the CEO, chief financial officer, hospital administrator, and director of public health.

Jayson Camacho | Reporter
Jayson Camacho covers community events, tourism, and general news coverages. Contact him at jayson_camacho@saipantribune.com.

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