Muña: Meeting with new HHS regional director a success


Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther Muña said her meeting with Department of Health and Human Services Region 9 director Melissa Stafford Jones was successful.

Muña said that she met Jones during her trip to San Francisco, California, earlier this month.

“As you know, Jones was appointed in November 2014 and replaced former regional director Herb Schultz. I find it necessary to introduce myself to Jones, especially since she is responsible for the administration of all HSS programs in the CNMI,” she said.

These programs include Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, HHS Health Resources and Administration, National Health Service Corp., Community Health Centers, and Maternal and Child Health, Hospital Preparedness Program, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

Muña said that CHCC had a strong relationship with former regional director Schultz and received numerous funding support from HHS.

“We wanted to ensure that we maintained such relationship with Jones. I briefed her on CHCC’s progress, challenges, and the trajectory CHCC is taking to improve the health care system of CHCC. CMS regional administrator Stephen Chickering apparently reported our progress to her and she was pleased,” she said.

Muña provided Jones with a report on CHCC’s progress in the State Innovation Model Planning Grant and discussed the goals of having “universal insurance” for the people of the CNMI.

“The design of the SIM grant takes advantage of the health care system model we have where public health, mental health, and hospital are integrated in one agency. Jones is known to support public hospitals as system of choice for the uninsured,” she said.

“I also advised that CHCC is in the process of negotiating our indirect cost and that it is our intent to use HHS as our agency in the negotiations of our rate. An individual from the cost allocation department/branch will be in contact with us soon to work on the negotiated rate for indirect cost,” she added.

She said that all in all she got to meet and discuss the issues that will help improve healthcare for the CNMI community.

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

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