Expansion of Agana Heights VA clinic to break ground in early 2019
Guam’s voice, as conveyed in Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo's 2018 Congressional Address at the legislature building in Hagatna Thursday was indeed, "Strong and Clear." It was also lengthy, but contained some relevant news for local military veterans and those who depend on Guam Memorial Hospital for primary medical care.
At the top though, Bordallo said she's been working hard in Washington, D.C. to minimize the impact of the much ballyhooed Trump tax cuts, which have proved to largely benefit the rich and cut federal funds for Guam, leading the local government to slash the budget and figure out other work-arounds. "The impact is real and the worsening fiscal challenges facing GovGuam are, part-and-parcel, consequences of this law," Bordallo said. "This is a law that had no input from Democrats or rank-and-file Republican Members of Congress, which is a reflection of the gridlock that has succumbed Congress’ ability to pass meaningful bipartisan legislation that helps, not hurts, working families."
From its opening, the Veterans Administration Community Based Outpatient Clinic has been the subject of many complaints from the island's large veteran community. The vets note shortages of doctors and medical staff and frequent turnovers of both. According to Bordallo, she's been involved in fixing the problems. "The VA is working to improve health services on Guam, as recommended by the GAO, including the hiring of additional doctors and medical staff, and reducing veterans wait times at the Community Based Outpatient Clinic.
I continue to press the VA to move forward with expanding the CBOC to better meet the demands of Guam’s veterans. I secured $5.5 million in funding for the CBOC expansion project, and I am pleased that the VA is near completed with its architecture and engineering designs and will break ground on the expansion at the beginning of next year."
Bordallo also said the VA and Guam Regional Medical Ciety will be working together in a pilot program to offer services not available at the CBOC.
Bordallo also addressed the Guam Memorial Hospital accreditation situation which may result in the loss of all Medicare funding. "This loss of funding would be catastrophic for GMH and leave our people, especially some of our most vulnerable, with a significant gap in healthcare coverage. GMH submitted a corrective plan of action to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and I hope that the GMH administration implements an approved corrective plan of action swiftly, fully, and transparently to prevent a loss of certification," Bordallo said.
She said she's working on a variety of potential federal assistance to avert this. "As Guam’s only public hospital, we cannot allow GMH to fail or lose its ability to serve Medicare and Medicaid patients. This would not be a receivership or the federal government assuming responsibilities of GMH management. Rather, I believe that a coordinated federal response to provide GMH with technical assistance to improve services."
Delegate Bordallo also claimed to see success ahead in the decades-long effort to get compensation for those on Guam who suffered through a brutal Japanese occupation, only to watch the U.S. let Japan out of any obligation to pay war claims to islanders.
"Throughout my time in Congress, and indeed over the last 74 years since the end of World War II, the voices of our manamko’ have pled for justice and closure for the atrocities they endured. Securing this recognition has been a driving force behind my work in Congress, and we can finally see the end of this long journey.
Potential war claims recipients sign up at University of Guam
The Foreign Claims Settlement Commission has reported that 3,640 war claims applications were filed, with a vast majority, over 3,000 filed by manamko’ - our living survivors and victims of the occupation of Guam. The Commission is currently reviewing these applications for adjudication and making the necessary arrangement to ensure that the voices and stories of our manamko’ receive the full recognition they deserve."
Bordallo also plugged local efforts to delink Guam taxes from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. She took partial credit for the new law which grants Guam exemption from caps on H-2B workers on military buildup projects until 2029, though she wants similar relief for civilian projects. And Bordallo said that since she's been working on it, some 1,200 acres of Guam land have been returned from military to civilian hands.