‘Star Marianas owes CHCC nearly $173K’


The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. belied the report that it owes Star Marianas Air. In fact, it is the other way around, with the airline actually owing the corporation $172,932.03, according to the corporation.

In a statement from CHCC through Kaitlyn Neises, the corporation’s special assistant for policy, sustainability, and development, Saipan Tribune was informed that the airline reportedly owes CHCC $172,932.03.

Citing CHCC records, Neises said the airline owes the corporation that amount since November 2012, representing the “medical costs of plane accident patients.”

Sen. Teresita A. Santos (R-Rota) earlier said that CHCC owes the airlines about $96,000. The alleged balance surfaced after CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña reached out to Santos, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, to help the corporation in seeking a 24-hour exemption for those traveling for medical referrals from the airline’s policy of confirming reserved seats after cash-payments are made.

Muña said in her letter to Santos that referral patients traveling from Rota to Saipan through Star Marianas have been reportedly losing their seats to travelers who get to pay before the referral patient.

CHCC chief financial officer Derek Sasamoto said in an email that there were instances when CHCC would pay the airlines in the morning and afternoon just to ensure that patients would have their seats.

“This causes undue burden on our staff and causes us to rush everything related to Rota medical referral,” he said. “This issue is not that we cannot pay. The issue is [the airline] giving away our [inter-island medical referral] seats. All we ask [Star Marianas] for is simply 24 hours to make payment.”

When Saipan Tribune reached out to Star Marianas last Wednesday, Robert Christian of Star Marianas said in an email that the company believes that “debt collection” is a private issue.

“Those purchases create certain obligations between our two entities which we believe are private in nature,” Christian said, adding that the airlines had no comment on the issue.

In a letter dated Jan. 23, 2018, Santos invited Muña and Star Marianas Air president Shaun Christian to a meeting on Jan. 30, 2018, for clarification.

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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