The CNMI House of Representatives Health and Welfare Committee has approved two House bills to expand access to mental health care and to establish a new, integrated health network program within the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.
House Bill 22-80 brings the CNMI one step closer to joining the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact, or PsyPact, an interstate compact designed to facilitate the practice of telepsychology and the temporary in-person, face-to-face practice of psychology across state boundaries. The bill would expand CNMI residents’ access to mental health care, including specialized services not currently available in the Marianas. The report and bill was due to be voted on at yesterday’s House session.
The committee also approved a substitute bill for House Bill 22-77 to establish a health network program within CHCC and provide for the orderly transition of medical referral services and administration to CHCC.
Committee chair Rep. Christina Sablan (D-Saipan) said the substitute bill includes amendments that reflect recommendations received during an extensive public comment period and multiple public hearings conducted on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota last summer.
She said the committee received comments from CHCC, including the CEO and the directors of the health centers on Tinian and Rota, medical referral services leadership and staff, the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Finance, the special assistant for Administration, the mayors of Tinian and Rota, and members of the public. We also reviewed reports on the medical referral program provided by CHCC and the Office of the Public Auditor.
“In addition to providing for an orderly transition of medical referral to CHCC, the substitute bill establishes a health network program that is an integrated part of CHCC, and that facilitates and expands residents’ access to CHCC’s network of providers both within the CNMI and outside of the Commonwealth,” she said.
A committee report and House Bill 22-77, HS1 will soon be transmitted to the full House for approval. (PR)