Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther L. Muña says the decision to write off promissory notes that were executed before CHCC took over the Medical Referral Services program is only fair.
Citing contradicting facts about the matter, and because the promissory notes were executed before CHCC took over the Medical Referral program, it’s only fair that they be written off, she said.
“The promissory notes were executed right before we took over. There was also some data that was contradicting. We have one report saying this is how much is owed, and another report saying another figure. So, I think it’s only fair that the decision to write them off was just fair—fair for the patients and fair for the program to move forward,” she said.
In addition to this, Muña also stated a write off was fair as the Office of the Attorney General found that the program should not be executing promissory notes to begin with.
Earlier this month, Muña disclosed to the CNMI Senate that an audit conducted by the Office of the Public Auditor in 2021 showed that the outstanding balance of the promissory notes entered by the Medical Referral Services Office beginning in 1997 with MRSO beneficiaries was estimated to be $11 million as of May 3, 2021, but that based on records pulled from the JD Edwards software system by CHCC in December 2022, the total outstanding was only about $6.4 million.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, Muña previously expressed concern about inaccurate promissory note records in a letter dated Dec. 14, 2022, to former Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian).
Muña said that, according to available records, the program began entering into promissory agreements with MRSO beneficiaries who either hit the lifetime limit on medical coverage through the program; cannot afford their co-pay, or do not have insurance and do not qualify for the indigent program.
The CEO said that in June 2021, the Office of the Attorney General determined that the MRSO lacks the legal authority to enter such promissory arrangements. She said OPA recommended in its audit published in September 2021 that the MRSO should cease issuing promissory notes immediately.
Since the administration of the program transitioned from the Office of the Governor to CHCC in October 2021, no new promissory notes have been issued, Muña said.
She said CHCC does not intend to collect on outstanding promissory notes issued as the MRSO lacked the authority to issue promissory notes in the first place as determined by the OAG.