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    Friday, April 19, 2019-2:29:37A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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NMI, Guam lawmakers look into air transportation for medical referral patients

ONE of the issues discussed by a group of Guam and CNMI lawmakers was air transportation for medical referral patients.

Reps. Luis John DLG Castro and Ivan Blanco met recently on Guam with Sen. Wil Castro, Sen. Louise Muna and Speaker Tina Muna Barnes’s chief of staff, Chirag Bhojwani.

It was the latest meeting among members of the Marianas Working Group, a creation of former Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo and CNMI Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to foster closer ties between the two territories.

In an interview on Saturday, Rep. LJ Castro said they recognized that there is “very limited” access to air transportation for medical referral patients.

Blanco, in a separate interview, noted that in fiscal 2018, the Commonwealth overspent over $13 million in medical referrals.

He said a significant portion of the cost was for the airfare of the patients and their escorts.

“And some medical referrals are emergencies so those are more expensive,” he added.

“So what are we going to do about that? We and our counterparts on Guam are looking at some incentives that we can offer to the airlines so they can offer cheaper airfare to medical referral patients. These incentives include tax breaks and a reduction in the landing and other fees. These are some of the areas we are looking at.”