SAIPAN – Rep. Joseph Flores has introduced a measure that would allow medical referral patients to use airline miles earned by the government.
In an interview Monday, Flores said House Bill 21-57 aims to help the government spend less on future off-island medical referrals.
He noted that over the years, the government's spending on medical referrals has exceeded the original allotments.
For fiscal year 2018 alone, the Department of Finance reported to the Legislature that government "overspending" on medical referrals had exceeded $13 million.
Flores said H.B. 21-57 proposes to create a CNMI Medical Referral Mileage Program. All accrued miles earned from the government's official business trips will be transferred to the program. The mileage credits will be provided to the director of medical referral services on a monthly basis or upon request by the director.
The credits will be used to help pay airfare costs for eligible medical referral patients.
Patient eligibility will be based on financial needs identified by the medical referral indigent program, lack of availability of required medical services in the commonwealth, and urgency and severity of illness.
H.B. 21-57 also proposes to make doctors, nurses and technicians eligible to receive mileage credits if they are going with a medical-referral patient.
Escorts can also be eligible but they must pay half the cost of the airline ticket with an option to use miles on a one-way travel reservation.
The measure requires that all government employees who conduct official business transactions will be allowed to use an official credit card in making purchases, and they "shall 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."
Employees who use their credit cards in a manner inconsistent with the act will be required to pay back the total cost for the amounts spent.