MMC halts service to Medicaid patients

Three clinics to follow suit
Marianas Medical Center announced yesterday that it will temporarily stop service to patients who are using Medicaid due to the government’s nonpayment of reimbursement.

Joy Sanchez, Marianas Medical Center office manager, confirmed with Saipan Tribune the company’s decision. She said an announcement stopping their service to Medicaid holder has been posted since yesterday at the facility’s entrance.

MMC advised the affected patients that suspension of their service takes effect today, July 2, and apologized for the temporary interruption of service.

In the same announcement, MMC said if Medicaid patients want to avail of service, they will be required a self-pay by the company.

According to Sanchez, services to Medicaid patients will resume once payments are made by the government.

MMC is the second medical provider that stopped service to Medicaid patients following the announcement of PHI Pharmacy last week. PHI Pharmacy is the biggest pharmacy on Saipan. It suspended services to Medicaid patients due to the government’s over $1 million in arrears.

Sanchez said MMC made the decision after failing to get reimbursement the past 11 months. She described the delayed reimbursement as a significant amount that if received in a timely manner could have help the company’s operation.

MMAC shut down its outlet in San Antonio effective June 1. Majority of the clinic’s patients in the area used Medicaid insurance.

Since its closure, the outlet’s operation was consolidated with the company’s clinic along Beach Road, resulting in the increase of Medicaid insurance patients in a daily basis. MMC accommodates 70-80 patients during peak hours daily. Majority of them are using Medicaid as insurance.

Sanchez disclosed that MMC started serving Medicaid patients in 2008. Since payment of reimbursement was delayed many months ago, she shared the negative impact it brought to their operation.

In an inquiry Friday at Brabu Pharmacy& Wellness Center, Saipan Tribune learned that service to Medicaid patients will also be stopped starting this week, also due to non-reimbursement from the government.

However, no final word from its owner, Peter Parker, was released yesterday to Saipan Tribune as promised.

Besides these providers, two other medical providers have expressed the same plan in the coming days.

A staff from the Pacific Medical Center told Saipan Tribune that although they still accept Medicaid patients, “the situation is only for now.”

An employee of Saipan Health Clinic also disclosed the company’s intention to stop service to Medicaid patients. The employee revealed that 80 percent of the clinic’s patients are Medicaid holders.

According to Gov. Benigno R. Fitial’s adviser on Medicaid Program, Esther Muna, the delay in the reimbursement is a result of the government’s severe cash flow problem.

“We want to pay the providers for providing the services to our clients. Unfortunately, the Medicaid program requires a 45 percent local match and with only a $2.4 million appropriation, it is difficult to pay the providers in a timely manner,” she told Saipan Tribune.

Muna said in the past six months, “we’ve been working diligently on finding solutions for funding the match and controlling the costs but these solutions cannot immediately solve the problem of the arrears dating back since 2010.”

By Moneth Deposa

Moneth G. Deposa | Reporter

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