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Last updateSat, 07 Dec 2019 12am







    Saturday, December 7, 2019-5:02:31A.M.






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Rep. Flores explains medical referral mileage bill

REPRESENTATIVE Joseph A. Flores has introduced House Bill 21-57 which would allow the use of “housekeeping” expenses paid for by the CNMI government that earn airline miles to defray the airfare costs of the CNMI Medical Referral Program.

He said the bill would not take away an individual traveler’s airline miles he or she earned from purchasing plane tickets.

Joseph A. Flores

The bill would apply only to the purchases made by the government, including for products and services for which a government credit card is used to earn airline miles, he added.

H.B. 21-57 proposes to create a CNMI Medical Referral Mileage Program.

Under the bill, all accrued miles earned from the government’s official business transactions will be transferred to this program. The mileage credits will then be provided to the director of Medical Referral Services on a monthly basis or upon request by the director. The mileage will be used to help eligible medical referral patients defray their airfare costs.

Flores’ bill would require all government employees who conduct official business transactions to use an official credit card in making purchases, and to transfer the mileage points to the program. The employees “shall sign a memorandum of agreement form acknowledging and relinquishing the accrued miles to the program.”

A similar bill was introduced by Sen. Sixto Igisomar in the 19th Legislature but he said “it got stuck in committee.”

In a separate interview, Igisomar said “there were complexities that we were not able to overcome back then.”

One airline company expressed concern about the privacy of its passengers, he added.

Igisomar said he and his colleagues tried to address all concerns, but in the process the bill “became more complex.”

He said his discussions with the Commerce and Finance department “did not result in a solution.”

In 1995, then-Gov. Froilan C. Tenorio signed Public Law 9-54 to create a medical referral mileage program. But this was repealed in 1998 because it could not be implemented.