The Legislature will give another look at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.’s needs to ensure that patient care is always a priority, according to House Ways and Means Committee chair Rep. Angel Demapan.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed into law last week the $24-million supplemental budget from the Special Casino Gross Revenue Tax Account, with $2.75 million given to CHCC.
“After this allocation of $2.75 million, we will be visiting their priorities again. In the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation, we have a appropriated $2.5 million to help with the purchase of hospital equipment and the $2.75 million will help them with indigent care costs,” he said.
“Indigent care still [represents] a significant number of unfunded liabilities for CHCC and so we intend to continue when there is an opportunity to put more money to indigent care at CHCC. This way, the hospital can continue to provide services to those who are uninsured and underinsured,” he added.
Demapan said the Legislature is constantly updated on the things the hospital needs. He said that CHCC submitted a list of areas that they need funds for, particularly equipment, and the Saipan delegation has already given the corporation $2.5 million for equipment.
“There are still some facility upgrades that we have provided funding for,” he said. “This is something that we will need to work with them as to how much funding we need to provide based on internal revenues that they have generated in the hospital.
“So we have to analyze what their shortfall is and how we can cover it in the supplemental budget process,” he added.
Demapan said the supplemental budget has never been this big.
“The process required a lot of negotiation and evaluation on how to distribute the money. At the end of the day, the recipients are the ones who the House and Senate agreed to appropriate the funds to. In this round of budget, we looked at healthcare, education, [the] Drug Court program, as all these things really need the help,” he said.
“After we get done in this round, when supplemental revenues become available again, we will be able to take care of other critical departments, especially in law enforcement, Division of Customs, and our workforce issues at the Department of Labor and their new initiatives,” he added.
Demapan said the signing of the supplemental budget went through a rigorous process of compromises.
“Leadership requires the art of compromise. With the signing of the bill, we saw the compromise between the House, Senate, and the administration and Public Law 19-42 is something that will go down in our history as a very significant day of reflecting on how far our economy has come,” he said.
“Without the economic improvement that we are experiencing today and the resurging revenues, having a supplemental would have been an imagination. Clearly, everything is coming into full circle and our people are benefitting from this reinvigorated economy,” he added.