14 Feb 2012

CNMI legislators pass bill to bail out hospital

2:50 pm on 14 February 2012

The House of Representatives in the Northern Marianas has passed legislation to bail out the territory's hospital.

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation was intended to be an independent, self-sufficient agency, running Saipan's hospital and outlying clinics from the beginning of October last year.

"But the Corporation's chief executive officer, Juan Babauta, has told the House that non-essential hospital workers could not be paid on Friday because of a shortfall in funds."

Our correspondent in CNMI Mark Rabago says the House has passed a bill seeking more than 11 million US dollars in credit for the corporation.

There was a threat of a possible employee walkout if the salaries continued to be delayed. On top of that the benefits of off- island hires haven't been paid since December. The staff there aren't happy, so this is welcome news.

Mark Rabago says the corporation's payroll for its 600 employees is about $1.6 million dollars a month.