Santos: CHCC board will be apolitical


Transforming the character of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board would not affect how the corporation would be run.

At least that’s what Senate Health and Welfare Committee chair Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Saipan) believes.

Santos assured yesterday that House Bill 19-186 would not authorize the board of trustees to micromanage—control or manage the day-to-day operations of CHCC.

“The legislation maintains the current provision of [Public Law] 16-51 where it provides the [chief executive officer] of CHCC the full authority and management of CHCC’s daily operations and functions,” she said.

Santos said the intention of the bill is to revert the current role of the CHCC board from an advisory one into a governing board.

“It further clarifies as to who has the authority to call for a meeting, that is, the chairman of the board of trustees versus the current law where a call for a meeting lies with the CEO,” said Santos.

“Having a governing board will ensure an oversight authority, hence there would be checks and balances in the management or operations of the corporation,” added the senator.

Santos said that despite the backlash since the passage of the bill, the Senate is looking to further amend the bill in the near future.

“The Senate will be making amendments on HB 19-186, taking into consideration the comments received from the division directors and staff of CHCC including our community, regardless whether the comments are in opposition or in favor of the legislation,” said Santos.

Santos also said the Senate is fully aware of the complexity of running the hospital and the Senate would make sure to appoint members with experience in the medical field.

“Similarly and as indicated by all the members of the Senate, the Senate will have the opportunity to thoroughly examine or screen the qualifications, work experiences, and educational attainments of each appointee nominated to serve as a board of trustee of CHCC. HB19-186 specifically requires that at least three of the board of trustees have experiences in healthcare or services,” she added.

Santos assured that the point of the board was not to control the corporation with a political agenda. Santos also said no jobs would be in danger upon the appointment of board members, saying the board is merely present to make sure the corporation is doing what it is supposed to do—provide proper healthcare to the CNMI.

“The establishment of the board of trustee is not to create a climate or environment of fear. Rather, to ensure there is accountability and transparency, promulgate policies, and ensure that the policies are acted accordingly,: she said.

Under the bill, the CEO will be an employee of the board and can be retained or fired accordingly.

Santos, however, said the legislation provides that the CEO can only be removed with cause.

“So it is not automatic,” she said.

Saipan Tribune tried to obtain comments from the author of HB 19-186, House Health and Welfare committee chair Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan).

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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