Marianas Variety

Last updateFri, 26 Apr 2019 12am

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    Thursday, April 25, 2019-2:37:11A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Editorials 2019-March-22

Breathe in…

OBAMACARE provides “extra” Medicaid funding to the NMI for a 10-year period…which will end this year.

No surprise there. Or there shouldn’t be. From the get-go, we all knew that the funds were for a certain period of time only, unless renewed by the federal government. We also knew that the funds have to be locally matched before the NMI could spend them.

The “problem” now — and then — is finding the local matching funds. It is a problem because the CNMI government has many other equally pressing obligations as the AG recently pointed out.

So what are the local programs, offices, services, etc. that should get less funding so that Medicaid can get more? If cutting costs cannot be done at a level sufficient to produce the required funding then some say that additional taxes or fees should be collected then. So what are the companies and who are the individuals who should pay more? Perhaps a combination of both then: reduce government costs and raise taxes/fees.

Fine. Introduce the legislation. Work for its passage — and implementation. Repeatedly saying “do this, pass the bill, because it’s for the good of everyone” doesn’t cut it. A majority of lawmakers, first of all, must agree with you. If you believe that elected officials do not have the guts to pass “real” cost-cutting measures, which would likely involve mass layoffs in the government, and/or increase tax rates, which would likely result in higher costs of doing business here, then go straight to the voters themselves. Circulate a petition. Solicit signatures. Put it on the ballot.

Despite what we all want to believe, there is still no such thing as a free lunch. And governance is mostly about making choices that, almost always, will be painful to a group of people — people who also happen to be voters.

Meanwhile, as we all wait for the sky to fall — it is always falling, it seems, for some people — we should ask CNMI officials: are there residents being denied care at the hospital because of this latest “Medicaid crisis”? Is the hospital itself about to shut down? Shouldn’t we all take a chill pill?

…breathe out

NEWSPAPER headlines from the other territories:

“Why there is a medical crisis on Guam”

“American Samoa hospital troubles worse than first thought”

“In the U.S. Virgin Islands, healthcare remains in a critical state”

“Ending Puerto Rico’s healthcare crisis”

In the U.S. itself:

“Healthcare access and delays: A true crisis in America”

“The U.S. healthcare crisis continues”

“The real reason healthcare is bankrupting America”

“American healthcare is in crisis”

Healthcare is a problem in many other jurisdictions and countries because healthcare is a never-ending necessity that is, more often than not, expensive, but for which not a lot of people want to pay a lot.

But for many voters, politicians and government exist precisely to defy market forces, basic economics and/or arithmetic. Voters all over the world elect King Canutes and then are appalled that their leaders cannot turn back the waves on the river bank. So they elect new ones — who promise to do the same thing.

In the CNMI, the most painless “solution” — at least compared to massive government spending cuts and higher taxes/fees — is to find ways to collect more revenue by reviving the tourism industry, and preventing, as much as possible, an economic meltdown by addressing workforce issues and ensuring that the construction of the hotel-casino in Garapan is completed.