House panel chair sees benefit of outpatient pharmacy


House Committee on Health chair Rep. Jose Itibus (R-Saipan) is “leaning toward supporting” an outpatient pharmacy at the Commonwealth Health Center.

Itibus, whose committee entertained a Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. presentation of its outpatient pharmacy idea last week, said he is all for the idea if it will help the hospital service provider generate revenue.

“We’ve got to understand that CHCC was given the responsibility to generate revenue,” he said. “Let us give them the chance to let them prove to us that the system of an outpatient pharmacy they would be implementing [would work]. …They are giving us pretty promising figures.”

CHCC officials have yet to make a similar presentation to the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, chaired by Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Rota).

Santos declined to comment without more information.

At a Senate hearing Thursday on the CHCC budget, Fiscal Affairs Committee member Sen. Justo Quitugua (Ind-Saipan) said he was interested in the financials of the outpatient pharmacy.

“They are still in the planning stage and they are still working on it, so they have not yet completed their plan with the pharmacy,” he said.

According to Quitugua, Muña said the outpatient pharmacy is a potential revenue source.

“We would like to see the plan. We would like to see that whatever plan they decide [to push through], it would work to benefit the people of the CNMI and at the same time generate additional revenue to improve [healthcare] services,” he said.

Quitugua reportedly asked Muña to submit a copy of the outpatient pharmacy plan once it is finalized.

Muña has been pushing for CHC’s own outpatient pharmacy, citing the benefits for both the hospital and the patients in terms of improved care, low cost, and the possibility to generate revenue.

According to Muña, CHCC is reportedly eligible to apply for the 340B pricing structure, a federal program that requires drug manufacturers to provide outpatient drugs to eligible healthcare organizations or entities, allowing it to sell prescription medicine at a lower cost while earning for the hospital.

According to Quitugua, the plan may also reduce the number of people who avail of off-island medical referral.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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