Medical Referral Office is not ‘politicized’—Sablan

Posted on Nov 20 2014


Medical Referral Services director Ronald D. Sablan took exception yesterday to a political advertisement that implies that his office is “politicized” merely because it is under the Office of the Governor.

“The assumption that the Medical Referral Services needs to be depoliticized is not true. To me, that is stating something that is totally opposite of the way it is,” Sablan said.

He was referring to an ad placed by the Hofschneider-Yumul campaign in both newspapers last Friday, titled “Your Health Matters.” In one of its statements, the HY campaign promised to “depoliticize Medical Referral.”

Sablan said he does not want to dragged into the politics of this Friday’s gubernatorial runoff election but since the the political ad brought up the issue, he wants to clarify why MRS is under the Governor’s Office.

“Medical Referral patients are unforeseen and you cannot estimate and you cannot project [how many patients you’re going to have in a year], so the only way for the government to really be able to accommodate this is that the governor has the expenditure authority to reprogram funds to be able to fund the requirements of this office,” he said.

Sablan pointed out that decisions made by MRS are not made by the governor or anyone in the Legislature. MRS has its own medical referral committee composed of a team of six doctors and Sablan himself making the decisions whether patients are eligible or not for medical referral.

“Our rules and regulations state that if we ran out of appropriated funds, then MRS operation should shut down. Based on our budget that gets appropriated for MRS in the last five years, it is actually less than 30 percent of what our expenditures really are,” he said.

How then does MRS gets additional funding if its expenditures surpass the budget allocated for it?

“This is the reason why it was transferred to the Governor’s Office because the governor has that expenditure authority to take surplus funds from other departments to be able to pay for this. Otherwise, patients here would be denied at other hospitals off-island,” Sablan said.

He pointed out that MRS has rebuilt its credibility in the last few years among off-island hospitals. Without that credibility, patients wouldn’t be accepted during off-island referrals, he said.

Sablan also noted that MRS has decreased its expenditures since he took over as its head.

Before he came into office, MRS’ expenditure was over $11 million a year. In comparison, expenditures in the past three fiscal years have ranged between $5 million to $6 million.

“When they say that MRS needs to be depoliticized, I don’t understand why? If anybody knows how we operate, nobody will need to say that. We transferred because the governor felt that he can reprogram funds—actual expenditure funds—to pay for this program,” Sablan said.

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

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.