Emergency State Continues For NMI Hospital, Utilities

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Government entities still face serious financial shortfalls

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Jan. 22, 2013) – Northern Marianas’ Governor Benigno R. Fitial extended anew on Friday his separate declarations of a state of emergency for the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation (CUC) and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHC).

The new round of CHC emergency enters its 10th month, while the new round of CUC emergency enters its eighth month.

The declarations mean the continued suspension of procurement laws and other regulations and allow for reprogramming of funds to meet these emergencies.

CHC remains in arrears in its payments to vendors and salary payments to employees. The hospital's deteriorating financial condition is also affecting its ability to maintain adequate infrastructure, equipment and personnel, jeopardizing CHC's federal funding.

"CHC has been notified by federal authorities that, due to deficiencies in CHC operations and infrastructure, CHC will cease to be eligible for Medicare/Medicaid payments along with other penalties if the deficiencies are not promptly remediated," the governor said in his Jan. 18 executive order on CHC.

In a separate order, Fitial reiterated CUC's imminent failure and the need to provide immediate reliable power, water and wastewater services.

He said CUC is owed some $14 million by the Public School System and CHC, and is owed millions more by residential users.

The governor also said that CUC often only has days' worth of diesel to power its system because it lacks the funds to buy fuel from its sole, cash-only suppliers.

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