UPDATE: Second Medicaid charter emphasizes it is a ’one-way’ trip
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Two media releases received by Samoa News explain Medicaid’s second charter flight to Hawai’i, tentatively scheduled for Oct 23, 2020 — saying the flight is “due to the urgency of medical referrals that have been pending for several weeks.”
In a media release dated, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, received by Samoa News early Thursday evening, the Governor’s Office wrote that Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga had “today approved LBJ and Medicaid’s request for a second medical charter to transport LBJ approved referral patients to the US.”
“The medical charter is a one-way charter taking only patients and their escorts from American Samoa to Hawaii,” it states.
The release goes on to say, the terms of the charter are the same as it was in the July charter. All Medicaid eligible patients will be covered by Medicaid and if there are any seats available for the public, a cost share must be paid.
It is emphasized that there will be no passengers coming from Hawaii — this they say is in order to protect the airplane from potential contamination to pick up 111 LBJ approved referral patients.
“Any remaining available seats will be prioritized first for US federal employees that need to return to the US, US residents stranded on island and all others.
As in the previous flight, LBJ and the Medicaid office will manage all LBJ approved referral patients. Medicaid will provide prior authorization and screen all escorts for compliance to the Medicaid State Plan.
“Escorts must at least be 21years old, of sound mind and body and able to emotionally & physically provide support and assistance in addition to being able to legally make decisions for the patient. Patients, who are minors require legal guardians as escorts. All non-patient passengers will be vetted by the Attorney General’s office,” the press release stated.
On Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, a second media release was made public to news outlets from the Am. Samoa Medicaid Agency, affirming the “meaning of one-way flight”.
Its full text is as follows:
Pago Pago, American Samoa — Medicaid wishes to provide clarification to avoid misinformation and confusion — that it re-affirms to all patients, escorts and non-medical passengers, that the charter flight on Oct. 23 is a ONE-WAY flight —just like the July charter flight.
All patients and non-medical passengers travel with the understanding and agreement that there is no return flight currently being planned by Medicaid. Patients must understand and agree to travel on the charter, knowing that they are not able to return back to American Samoa until the American Samoa Government re-opens up the borders or approves a repatriation flight.
Currently, there is no return charter flight being planned to return referral patients — as was the policy in the July charter.
In the July charter — ALL patients and non-medical travelers were informed that there is no return flight being planned for referral patients — they must wait and rely on returning home on the next available commercial flight when borders re-open.
Medicaid is only providing the departure of a charter flight for the sole purpose of sending patients off-island for medical treatment as requested by the LBJ hospital — with the full understanding that the American Samoa Government’s policy of closed borders shall be maintained and respected. Thus, all patients and passengers travel at their own risk of staying in the US for an unknown time period — and must understand and agree to this condition to be approved to depart from American Samoa on the medical charter flight.
Again, the only option open to referral patients and non-medical passengers to return home once they travel, is to wait until the government re-opens its borders to commercial flights into American Samoa or the Governor approves a special repatriation flight. This was explained as a condition for the last July charter — and is now still a condition for travelers for the October 23rd charter.
For further information, please contact the Medicaid State Agency at 699-4777.