The acceptance of Medicare patients in the Philippines was an issue that reared its head time and again in question and answer sessions at the symposium.

At present Medicare patients are accepted on an emergent care basis in the Philippines. Amparo Faigal associate director of billing and account services at St. Luke’s Medical Center; told symposium attendees St. Luke’s had begun working on being recognized for Medicare patients in general. “We plan to get the requirements so we can be accredited with them.” St. Luke’s had written to the U.S. she said. “We’re waiting for their reply.”

Joaquin P. Perez chief of staff to Madeleine Z. Bordallo Guam’s delegate to Congress said “If it’s an emergency and the service is not available on Guam then Medicare will cover it. We’ve had a test case that was accepted which set the precedent for Medicare to be accepted there. It was a stretcher case. Initially Medicare had a problem with it then they said yes. If the patient had to be taken to Honolulu he would have died.”Vietnam already accepts Medicare patients according to one attendee.

Ben Borja medical referral coordinator for the Commonwealth Health Center in Saipan told the Journal “We have more than 50% of our patients in Medicare and Medicaid. If that issue would be straightened out they’re all going to go to Manila. We did a calculation. If we were going to send all of our patients to Manila we’d only spend about half a million [dollars] a year and it’s double that for Hawaii only.” MBJ