By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Speaker Therese Terlaje has proposed to boost funding for health agencies under the substitute version of the FY2023 budget bill currently being deliberated in the 36th Guam Legislature.
“The additional funding secured for these specific critical services at Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center and at the Health Professional Licensing Office directly impacts the health and safety of the people of Guam," said Speaker Terlaje, legislative oversight chair on health.
Sen. Sabina Perez proffered an amendment to Terlaje’s Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center amendment to increase the amount by $100,000. All of the amendments passed with no objections.
"I would like to thank Sen. Perez for recognizing the need to increase inpatient services by an additional $100,000, and to my colleagues for working with me to ensure these services are prioritized for the upcoming fiscal year,” Terlaje said.
Additional funding pertinent agencies as proposed by Terlaje are as follows:
Health Professional Licensing Office – Increased appropriation by $283,541
• Guam’s Health Boards have long been challenged with fulfilling their mandates, and often cite budgetary limitations and a lack of resources as primary barriers. Recent concerns over the handling of complaints by licensing boards have highlighted the need for resources to meet their mandates for the overall health and safety of the people of Guam.
Division of Environmental Health – Authorized to use unexpended funds through 2023
• The Division of Environmental Health has been tasked with not only their regular responsibilities such as childcare and food safety permitting and inspections, but additional tasks during the pandemic despite staffing shortages over a number of years. The increase is intended to be used for ongoing recruitment and operational expenses for the division.
MIP & Medicaid - Authorized to use unexpended funds through 2023
• With the uncertainty of federal provisions looming for Medicaid, DPHSS has requested to carry over FY22 lapsed funds to mitigate any potential reversion of the federal matching requirements from the current 17%, to the prior 45 percent.
Detoxification and Rehabilitation Services – Increased by $342,774
Inpatient Detox Program (New Beginnings) – Increased by $201,157
• This would give Guam Behavioral Health what they requested for the upcoming fiscal year, plus an additional $100,00 over their request, in an effort to prioritize the island’s drug problem. Many crimes and neglect issues often stem from people in the community struggling with substance abuse.
Senators also approved Sen. Telo Taitague’s amendment to appropriate $10.6 million for repairs to village roads from the general fund.
“This amendment prioritizes additional funds for road construction in our villages without raising any revenue levels in Bill 276 – and the appropriation is not contingent on the collection of excess revenues," she said. "Recognizing that the government of Guam in 2010 estimated it needed $746 million to fund projects identified in the Village Streets Master Plan., this amount has likely increased substantially recognizing the rise in construction material and labor costs" she added.