‘Not so fast…’

A lawmaker who opposes an increase in the Commonwealth Health Center’s room rates believes the increases are not official yet as the hospital’s governing board has yet to vote on it.

Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Rota), who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, told Saipan Tribune yesterday that “nothing [is] set in stone” yet, despite earlier reports of room rate increases at CHC.

She said she was able to discuss the matter with Lauri Ogumoro, board chair of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., which runs CHC, after “receiving numerous calls from concerned citizens.”

According to Santos, Ogumoro indicated that the CHCC board has yet to take action on the matter.

“Thus, nothing is set in stone until the [CHCC] board of trustees meet…to review, discuss, adopt, or approve or disapprove the proposed rate increase,” she said.

Santos added that she also talked with Rep. Jose Itibus (R-Saipan), who chairs the House of Representatives Committee on Health.

“… We have decided to defer any action pending the [CHCC] board of trustees’ decision on the proposed rate increase,” she told Saipan Tribune, noting that the CHCC board is expected to meet this Thursday to discuss the increases.

In a Monday news statement from CHCC, the corporation informed the public as well as insurance providers that it has updated its fees and charges for room and board.

The increases in fees and charges—at least 21.42 percent in increases—were described in the statement as “necessary to keep up with the increasing costs of healthcare services in the CNMI.”

The statement noted that the last adjustment of fees and charges date back to last 2012.

In the latest round of increases, the highest increase is on a semiprivate room and board, with a per-day-fee of $2,800 as opposed to the previous $1,090. This is a 156.88-percent increase compared to the previous rate.

The lowest increase percentage-wise went to the private room and board rate, or the isolation room, which now costs $2,550, as opposed to its previous per day rate of $2,100. The fee saw a 21.42-percent increase.

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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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  • Ioanes

    It’s more like 50 percent increase while more than half of the hardworking employees are drowning with poverty income level mired in famine on salary improvements!

  • elkapitan

    This may prove interesting, Muna increases the rates without the approval of the board.
    Possibly a battle is brewing between these two on who has the power to do what.

  • D Anderson

    If the indigent population never paid the old rates, they won’t pay the new ones. CHCC can’t turn them away so they eat the cost which is fine. With the government providing ONLY 700 – 800k for 2018, what do critics expect? In order to provide quality care and attract top notch providers and nurses, somebody has to pay the bill. It’s unfortunate that our own leaders who say during campaign season that “healthcare is a priority” because CHCC either eats the cost or the cost gets placed on those that are uninsured. It is a broken system that we have in the CNMI government and I hope people don’t forget come election time because I sure as well won’t forget.

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