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Handcuffing families to the CNMI


The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. announced Saturday a hike in PRC testing costs to outbound travelers from $50 to $300.  As flights return, this decision will handcuff families to the island.  Many have been without work for months and will struggle to pay for a ticket, no less an additional $300 per family member if they need to travel to the Philippines, Korea, China, or Japan where PRC tests are required for entry.  So a family of four traveling to Manila will have to come up with an additional $1,200. Is that fair?  What if someone needs surgery in Manila or somewhere else that provides a service that can’t be found in the CNMI?  Would CNMI charge a person with an urgent need $300 if they needed to travel to the Philippines for medical care?

Tourists will not return.  Will tourists from China, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines return to Saipan knowing they’ll pay $300 per family member to return back home?  If I’m vacation planning, $50 for each family member sounds much better than $300.  CHCC can all but guarantee no tourist will return to the CNMI.  Great job! 

Who paid for the test?  Did CHCC pay for all the PRC kits sent to the CNMI?  I thought they were being reimbursed or have already been reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Who pays for health care worker and laboratory costs associated with pandemic testing?  I thought FEMA was reimbursing CHCC for these costs.  So if CHCC is being reimbursed by FEMA for these costs, should CHCC profit for services that they have already been paid for or will be reimbursed for?  Seems like if the federal government is already covering these costs, charging someone else for them would be illegal.  Should CHCC be paying FEMA back for the cost of kits being used on nonresidents or tourists?  I guess the $50 PRC cost wasn’t enough to cover the utility bill. 

Mica F. Cochran 
Capital Hill, Saipan

Mica F. Cochran 

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