CHC Needs to Move Forward Now

May 9, 2012

The contract between CHC and Idaho-based ICS has officially ended according to Attorney General Edward Buckingham. He noted that ICS president Dan Cochran failed to come up with the required agreed upon documents during the 45-day window allowed in the cease and desist order. Instead, ICS provided a flow chart taken from the internet, a start up cost sheet marked "pending" and a new draft of a contract based on Idaho laws. Surely, a legitimate company that had been collecting fees from the CHC since January 2012, would have had all of the plans and documents at hand.

The Marianas Variety quoted AG Buckingham:
“My position is two-fold, I am not signing an ICS contract and I have directed our chief investigator to review facts and circumstances concerning what contracts, if any, may have been levied without review of the AG’s office.”

“People are expressing concern about critical medical supplies … we have a question of priorities when we have a person who is in an ‘unlawful status’ and paying them over $2,100 a day — nearly $40,000 — raises serious questions,” stated Buckingham.

The AG continued by explaining that Cochran had sat in his office only days ago for an on-the-record recorded meeting and had distinctly said he had only received “some $10,000” in advance payments from CHC.

“When someone is asked a direct question by me, ‘What payments, if any, have you received?’ and they answer ‘$10,000’ now that answer wasn’t true…I have a problem with that,” said Buckingham when pressed to definitively declare that any chance for an ICS deal had passed.
There have been no comments from Idaho's Bingham Hospital CEO Louis Kraml and COO Dan Cochran who run ICS. Likewise, CHC's CEO Babauta has not commented.

The situation at CHC is extremely desperate so it is understandable that some people want to view this pair as white knights. It is clear that they are not. The fact that money was exchanged even before ICS was a legally established LLC or had an approved contract  is alarming. The arrogant and unprofessional behavior of Dan Cochran in addressing the CNMI media raised eyebrows. Some odd statements Louis Kraml made to the Idaho press  raised more questions. The fact that ICS knew that it had to produce specific documents to get approval of the OAG and failed to do so raised even more flags.

It is clear that the under-funded and near-bankrupt hospital needs immediate attention. It needs money, it needs organization, it needs effective leadership and it needs skilled staff that is properly trained to do billing. It needs all of this yesterday. The problems at CHC did not just arise in recent years. They have been ongoing for decades and they have been ignored. CHC had the opportunity to get moving in the right direction years ago.

The Commonwealth Health Center received several reports that could have helped to turn things around. The World Health Organization conducted an analysis of the CHC in 2008 that looked at a variety of aspects of the CNMI health care system. According to the WHO report, a Pacific Islands Health Officers Association (PIHOA) consultant visited the Commonwealth in 2008 and conducted a strategic planning meeting for human resource capacity building. Reports below:

Yes, the CHC needs help, but it should contract an established and reputable billing company by bidding out the job.

The legislature, governor and hospital administrators need to focus now on saving the hospital by making their own plan that includes properly funding the system. Peoples' lives depend on their actions.


Anonymous said...

Bidding out the job does NOT mean quality. It means that the lowest bidder might get the contract. That means that it would be possible a foreign owned business in the CNMI straight out of Manila could get it. That's why the Federal government grants MANY sole source contracts to experienced and yes very expensive vendors. BTW, Ed Buckingham has made all the right choices regarding ICS so you might want to acknowledge that.

Anonymous said...

Ruth Tighe wrote in the Saipan Tribune, “The CNMI will never get out of its slump if every entrepreneur who offers help is met with hostility, ridicule, criticism. We should welcome his/her assistance and, in turn, assist him/her in providing it to us. In this case, additionally, we should respect and support the professionals in our midst-the doctors upon whom our lives depend.
” I disagree. We need to look at each entrepreneur who offers help us to determine what their qualifications are, their past business successes, their true motives and their professionalism. ICS was not professional. It was a newly formed company. One partner lied to the AG about his cash advances and then he submitted inferior documents that made the company look even more fraudulent. CHC doctors looked like fools by supporting a bad company.

If Ruth and the CHC doctors have real facts to show ICS is better than any other existing billing company, why aren’t they sharing this information? What is so good about them? What can they offer that no other company can? The general consensus is that they are not legit. I say tell us why we are wrong.

Anonymous said...

Noni 6:03 I also read that letter. Ruth quotes Idaho Commissioner Cleome Jolley as supporting ICS. Of course he is favorable to these guys. Jolley sits on the Bingham Hospital Board of Directors! Where is there an endorsement by a source without connections? There is none! Even if ICS isn’t money hungry, they lack any resemblance of professionalism. ICS stinks.

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 1:24

The lowest bidder does not necessarily receive the bid when a job is bidded out. Bidding out a job allows qualified companies to apply and provides an adequate vetting process so the best company can be selected. It also allows for a more open process and there are less likely to be deals penned by individual parties behind closed doors. Oh, and what is wrong with a company from Manila if it is the BEST company?

AG Buckingham seemed to follow the law in the ICS contract. Good for him! (His move, which appears to be so out of character, also makes me wonder.) Too bad he did not follow the law or exhibit ethical actions with previous contracts such as the Ada contract and in many other situations where Fitial's political allies were involved -gun-gate, election-gate, message-gate, DOC-gate and on and on .

Anonymous said...

For one, if a company out of Manila wins a contract to provide billing services to CHC, then whomever is running US Immigration should either be prosecuted or step in and cancel the contract. CHC receives Federal funds which means that a company out of Manila cannot compete. The US needs to create jobs for US companies.

Anonymous said...

Why do the doctors support ICS? Maybe the doctors thought ICS could help get $$$ so they'd get paid! Then again, how can they get paid when the cash for their pay is given to ICS? It looks like ICS earned $37,000 for travel, vacation and driving around lots. Like over 350 miles for Kraml and Cochrane each if you watch the KSPN expose. How do you drive that much on Saipan to and from the hotel and CHC? And what is ruth's dog in this fight?

Anonymous said...

7:40 OMG get an education. A company does not have to be U.S. to get a U.S. contract!

Anonymous said...

Now there are more and more idiots popping out like 7:40... geeee! i hope he/she will not gonna be a governor!

Anonymous said...

7:40 funny comments that is why people like can not run the government... think think think again and again to educate

Anonymous said...

8:30 is correct, there are many Foreign owned companies in Guam involved with this "on again off again" military buildup and DOD contracts.
There are also many of these companies that have problems because of labor abuses along with many US Companies..
This is happening in NMI also. There are many construction companies that have gotten contract under many of the Fed grants.
Granted there are some DOD contracts that are restricted to US Nationals with security clearances for obvious reasons.