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Thursday, April 17, 2014

USP4GG pushes for Medicare portability

The U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance continues to push for Medicare portability for Filipino-American patients from the Northern Marianas and Guam.

USP4GG leaders led by national chair Loida Nicolas Lewis and Marianas chapter chair Celia Lamkin met with Guam Gov. Ed Calvo, Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, and other officials last Feb. 19.

Lamkin said in an email response that their group has been advocating for a “direct billing” instead of a “reimbursement” system for Medicare patients.

With the direct billing system, Medicare patients from the CNMI and Guam will no longer have to pay upfront when they avail of emergency medical services in accredited hospitals in the Philippines—if these services and specialists are not available in the Marianas.

Lamkin said the reimbursement system takes a long time, sometimes up to a year, before the patients are reimbursed for their expenses.

She noted that many of these U.S. citizens would like to retire in the Philippines where the cost of medical services is a third of the cost in the mainland—“a lot cheaper” given the same quality of services and availability of state of the art equipment and facilities.

“In this regard, Medicare will save a lot of money,” Lamkin said.

She revealed that Lewis requested Bordallo during the meeting to introduce in Congress a Medicare portability bill that would include Fil-Ams throughout the nation and who have Medicare as their insurance.

“Bordallo was very positive in her response. Bordallo asked her resident director, Andrew Tenorio, to work on the draft of the bill,” Lamkin told Saipan Tribune.

Lamkin added that they also brought up the immigration issue and the situation of construction workers in the CNMI with Calvo.

While Calvo noted the availability of jobs in Guam for skilled workers, Human Resource Development director Alfred Antolin cited the need for a Filipino skilled worker to be certified by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA.

Lamkin said USP4GG will work with the Guam Philippine Consulate regarding the TESDA certification and the Medicare portability.

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