- By Pacific Island Times Nes Staff
Legislature OKs bill expanding GovGuam healthcare network
The Guam Legislature on Wednesday passed a bill that would expand the government of Guam’s network of providers under its healthcare insurance program.
The bill’s author, Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, described the passage of Bill 30-35 as “the first step to improve healthcare access on Guam.”
Currently, GovGuam’s healthcare insurance plans apply only to the Guam Memorial Hospital. The bill, if signed into law, would allow government employees and retirees to have more options including the Guam Regional Medical City.
“I hope that once the negotiation process is complete, private businesses can follow the Government of Guam and provide comprehensive coverage for their employees as well,” Muna Barnes said.
Take Care president and CEO, Joseph Husslein issued a statement shortly following the bill’s passage. “While TakeCare is pleased that Bill 30-35 was not passed as introduced, we will review and assess the language,” he said. “TakeCare stands for balancing expanded coverage and affordability at the choice of the consumer.”
Sen. Jim Moylan, whose family owns Moylan Insurance, recused himself due to a potential conflict of interest, while Sen. Therese Terlaje was excused.
Prior to the passage of the bill, Terlaje said the debate on the bill spotlighted the many unresolved issues surrounding GovGuam’s healthcare insurance, which accounts for the largest procurement by the government, costing about $91 million a year.
“It is also one of the most complex solicitations and negotiating schemes in government procurement. The health insurance industry is a complex industry,” Terlaje said. “Experts make a living consulting state governments and our own local government in this field. And I know that the negotiating team hires consultants every year to advise them and states hire consultants to advise them as to the impacts of different health policies.”
She noted the problems that exist in the current negotiation process as well as sealed contracts, in including billings and collections.
“And I believe that we can solve those, but they are not solved in this bill. We cannot solve these issues with less competition in our procurement and we cannot solve our problems with unequal bargaining power in negotiations,” Terlaje said.
“Problems that exist in our current negotiation or contracts, problems in billings, problems in collections, all kinds of problems that the government of Guam must do better on,” Terlaje said. “And I believe that we can solve those, but they are not solved in this bill. We cannot solve these issues with less competition in our procurement and we cannot solve our problems with unequal bargaining power in negotiations.”