CNMI Report – Medicare Reassures Commonwealth It Will Cover Treatment in the Philippines

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Guam – Medicare has reassured CNMI officials that it will pay for emergency and non-emergency inpatient services provided in the Philippines for CNMI patients if, among other things, the foreign hospital is closer to the patient’s home than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat the patient’s medical condition.

U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Dr. Donald M. Berwick amde that assurance in a letter to CNMI Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan.

Congressman Sablan welcomed the reassurance saying travel to the Philippines would be an attractive alternative for Medicare patients from the CNMI who now go to Hawaii or the U.S. mainland for care, which is both expensive and a physical hardship for seniors.  Senate President Paul Manglona and Sen. Ralph Torres also said they appreciated the clarification from Berwick.

The Philippines is only about three hours away from the CNMI. Travel to Hawaii is more than seven hours.

Medicare provides health insurance coverage to people who are at least 65 years of age, and to younger people as well if they have a permanent disability.