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CHCC: Medical referral program should be fully funded

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COMMONWEALTH Healthcare Corp. Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna said the CNMI government should provide adequate funding if the medical referral program is transferred to CHCC.

During the CHCC budget hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Fiscal Affairs on Aug. 25, Muna appealed to lawmakers to invest in the healthcare system. “I just want to emphasize the need to really fund it,” she added.

The medical referral program costs  about $21 million a year, but  only $3 million is appropriated, CHCC chief financial officer Derek Sasamoto said during the budget hearing.

Muna said CHCC taking over the medical referral program will be an opportunity to change the healthcare system.

“We need to change the culture of healthcare and advance the system by providing equipment and resources,” she added. 

On Aug. 24 CHCC opened its Oncology Center, which will provide treatment to local patients and reduce the need for off-island referrals.

“There are individuals who see medical referral as scary because it means they will leave behind their families,” Muna said. Consequently, some residents “hold back their visits to health providers.”

She said by investing in healthcare, more local patients will not have to leave the island and their family behind while worrying about additional expenses.

Muna also appealed to the lawmakers to be involved and engaged in the process of transferring the medical program to CHCC.

Muna recounted that in 2011, when CHCC became an independent public corporation, it almost failed because of the lack of funding. “I hope it doesn’t happen [to the medical referral program].”

 

 

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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