February 13, 2012
First to be investigated should be the Commonwealth, Rota and Tinian Heath Centers. They are all existing on life support and have been for months. Residents in the CNMI with chronic illnesses may want to consider leaving to a place where stable and adequate health care facilities exist. Not only is the hospital broke and not paying employees, but it is out of supplies, equipment and other essentials. Hospitals are not the place to skimp or cut corners. Even though the health centers on all three islands are gasping to survive, officials take expensive trips, hire unneeded consultants, file expensive lawsuits against the federal government, and spend money on numerous other non-essentials.
Juan Babauta, the governor’s new hospital administrator, declared that the “hospital may close if workers walk out because they have not been paid.” Workers who are owed back pay should call the U.S. Department of Labor to find out if there is any way that the officials can help to collect the stolen wages. Foreign workers can also contact the federal ombudsman for help. They may also consider contacting a private attorney to sue the CNMI government to collect their months of unpaid housing allowances and all of the wages that are owed to them before the hospital is totally bankrupt. If all else fails (and it probably has by now) by all means they should walk out as Juan Babauta told the legislature that the cheated employees may do.
No one should have to work without pay. Does the governor work without pay? Does Babauta work without pay?
How many years have CHC, THC and RHC employees been ripped off by the CNMI government? Did the legislators do anything? Did the Governor? This is not a new issue by any means. Fix it already!
The hospital administrators did not collect their patients' payments for years and now the unpaid collectibles have skyrocketed to over $24 million. I guess the administration has given up on collecting the past due bills and is now looking at taking money from the Marianas Public Lands Corporation to use as a transfusion to save the ailing health care system. Babauta was at the CNMI House yesterday to push the passage of H.B. 17-248 a bill to turn over $11.58 million of Marianas Public Land Trust’s future interest income distribution to the health care corporation to be used for “operation needs” and an electronic health information technology development. The bill passed in a 16-2 vote and is headed to the Senate.
From the Marianas Variety:
Babauta told the lawmakers that for last week’s payday, CHC was only able to pay essential employees — doctors and nurses. They have not paid the nurses on Rota and Tinian, and he feels “so sorry” about it.
The former governor said the corporation needs $800,000 every payday for its 600 employees including those on Tinian and Rota.
“If we don’t have this [H.B. 17-278], we will be faced with a 40 percent cut across the board,” Babauta said.
He added that “there might be a walkout on the part of healthcare providers which may shut down the hospital.”
Asked why the corporation waited until election year to urge lawmakers to act on a problem healthcare officials already saw last year, Babauta said: “No, we’re not doing that. Please don’t inject politics into this. This is a serious matter.”
Babauta said H.B. 17-278 is just a temporary measure to “carry us over so we can meet our obligations primarily to the employees.”I have lost all respect for Juan Babauta. He "feels sorry about it?!" "It" being that the nurses on Rota and Tinian are not being paid. How does he think that those who have not been paid feel?
He added, “This is not permanent solution. What we’re going to do is, as we have indicated before, we are going to beef up our system, make it work so we are able to collect more.”
Don't inject politics into this? Really? What a joke! Everything in the CNMI is political. The fact that no one was ever made to pay the damn bills was political. I would bet that the majority are fees owed by employers for their foreign worker employers' medical treatments –bills that the criminal employers never paid just like they never paid their workers' salaries.
Want to get really sick? Look at the photo from the Marianas Variety yesterday where Fitial, the king of Saipan is sitting on his throne with a microphone talking to his subjects. Not sick enough yet? Read the story.
Not getting paid? Absolutely walk out! Seriously, any foreign worker who is employed at the CNMI's hospitals should start applying for jobs elsewhere now before they have more wages stolen or are among those that Babauta plans to fire to keep the hospitals alive.