Torres signs bill earmarking over $6.2M to Saipan

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signs House Local Bill 20-49 with SNILD chair Rep. John Paul Sablan, and House Ways and Means chair Rep. Angel A. Demapan. (Contributed Photo)

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres yesterday signed into law a bill that appropriates $6,286,000 from the Exclusive Gaming Annual License Fees allotted to the Third Senatorial District under 4 CMC §2307(c)(2).

House Local Bill 20-49, S1, D1, was offered by Reps. Angel A. Demapan, Francisco C. Aguon, BJ T. Attao, Donald C. Barcinas, Ivan A. Blanco, Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero, Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero, Alice S. Igitol, Jose I. Itibus, Janet U. Maratita, Gregorio M. Sablan, Jr., Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation chair John Paul P. Sablan, and Edmund S. Villagomez and was passed by the SNILD of the 20th Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature. The bill becomes Saipan Local Law No. 20-19.

“While I have signed this into law in the best interest of our patients and the staff at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, I am disappointed in the CEO’s decision to prioritize $200,000 for the renovation of the hospital’s new outpatient pharmacy, instead of purchasing new pharmacy hoods for its existing inpatient pharmacy,” Torres said in his transmittal message to the SNILD:

Torres added that the $200,000 appropriation outlined in this bill for pharmacy hoods and the renovation of the clean room provide for the preparation of personalized medication through compounded drugs, chemotherapy drugs, and IV solutions, which are critically important to the treatment of our patients and are needed to comply with standards set forth by the U.S. Pharmacopeia Convention and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). With this being said, I question why $200,000 was not used to address this critical priority first, but was used to fund the renovation of the new outpatient pharmacy when an existing pharmacy already exists and is in need of additional equipment to meet the expectations and requirements of our patients.

“I advise CHCC to prudently determine and manage its financial priorities for the benefit of our patients and the vitality of our island’s only hospital. I remain open as always to discuss ways to achieve this purpose in coordination with the Legislature,” he said.

In a separate statement, the governor added.

“I am disappointed in the CEO’s decision because there is confusion about what the financial priorities of CHCC are. If CHCC is in need of vital equipment to better serve our patients and community, then that should have been taken care of first, rather than to prioritize the renovation of an outpatient pharmacy when an existing pharmacy is still there within the hospital to provide outpatient services. I will continue to ensure that essential healthcare services will be adequately funded for the hospital this year, but I will not tolerate the current management’s lack of financial priorities,” he said. (PR)

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