Two appointees to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board testified Wednesday against a bill that seeks to clarify the roles of the corporation’s chief executive officer and the board itself.
Lauri Ogumoro and Leticia Reyes testified against Senate Bill 20-29, pointing out that the board appointees must first be given time to act under the provisions of Public Law 19-78, the law that transformed the CHCC board in January from having an advisory role to a governing one.
“Having an amendment done to PL 19-78 [forces us] to have a different mindset at CHCC,” said Reyes. “Try us out first. We haven’t even organized ourselves yet. Give us a chance and if our performance is good, let’s continue. If not, let’s work it out.”
CHCC CEO Esther Muña, who testified in support of SB 20-29, referenced her June 1, 2017, letter to Senate Health and Welfare Committee chair Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Rota).
“…we believe SB 20-29 takes necessary steps to improve the accountability of the organization while also clearly defining the function of the board, and ensuring compliance with governance requirements of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, or CMS,” she wrote.
According to Muña, CMS is the largest revenue source for CHCC.
SB 20-29, authored by Sen. Sixto Igisomar (R-Saipan), clarifies the differences between the CHCC CEO and the board of directors.
In PL 19-78, the five-person CHCC is given control of the corporation’s day-to-day operations, functions, and activities—the same tasks the CEO usually does.
SB 20-29 clarified that the board would oversee the activity of the corporation and the CEO, establish clear and reasonable financial objectives for the corporation, adopt a strategic plan for meeting the healthcare needs of the CNMI in line with its financial objectives, and other provisions that essentially manages CHCC as a whole rather than focusing on the hospital’s day-to-day operations, which the bill specified is the CEO’s responsibility.
As of publication, the members of the CHCC board are William Cing representing Tinian, Dr. Larry Hocog representing Rota, and Leticia Reyes, David Rosario, and Lauri Ogumoro representing Saipan.