CNMI Hospital Given More Time To Comply With Medicare Deficiencies

Commonwealth Health Center in non-compliance with seven conditions 

By Bryan Manabat

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Oct. 27, 2016) – The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has granted the Commonwealth Health Center additional time to comply with Medicare’s conditions of participation.

Two years ago, a CMS survey identified CHC’s non-compliance in connection with seven hospital conditions of participation.

In a letter to Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. CEO Esther Muna dated Oct. 25, 2016, Rufus Arther, CMS certification and enforcement branch manager, said they are giving CHC an extension due “to the extent of the deficiencies, the complexity of making fundamental, systemic changes, and in recognition as well of the importance of maintaining access to hospital services for CNMI’s residents….”

CMS’s enforcement process could have resulted in the termination of CHC’s Medicare hospital provider agreement on Oct. 31, 2016.

However, Arther said they are “hereby further extending the prospective date for termination of the hospital’s Medicare provider agreement to July 31, 2017.”

CHCC CEO Esther Muna in a statement said “much of the credit for the extension goes to our hospital staff and management, our corporate compliance team, and medical staff for their dedication in providing high-quality, safe care to patients.”

She added, “This is a team effort that involves the corporation’s leadership, the hospital leadership, and the entire hospital staff.   CMS stated that they recognize the ‘complexity of making fundamental, systemic changes’ and we recognize that this team must continue to work together to achieve that.”

According to Muna, “We know it takes trust from CMS to grant this extension and we will ensure we continue to earn that trust and provide our very best for our patients.”

In his letter to Muna, Arther said, “Please bear in mind that although CMS will continue to consult with CHC concerning compliance matters, ultimately it is CHC’s responsibility to ensure that the facility complies with Medicare requirements. If compliance cannot be verified prior to July 31, 2017, we will proceed with the termination action.”

A public corporation, CHCC’s primary source of funding is the federal government.

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