Guam Memorial Hospital Deserves Adequate Funding

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Editorial

Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Jan. 19, 2016) – Because of the continued failure of elected officials to adequately fund Guam Memorial Hospital, it could lose water service this week. It also faces being disconnected by the Guam Power Authority.

The government-run hospital hasn’t paid its water bill since September, and that was for January 2015. September was also the last time it paid its power bill. It owes the Guam Waterworks Authority about $500,000, and its past-due power bill is more than $500,000.

The overdue bills are part of more than $20 million that the hospital owes to vendors.

"At this point we’re doing everything that we can do to make these payments," said Gov. Eddie Calvo, who took over management of Guam Memorial Hospital after three board members recently resigned.

He said it’s important the hospital focuses on cash flow, so it can make payments.

But the hospital’s cash flow has never been good, primarily because it’s required to treat every patient who comes through its doors, regardless of their ability to pay. That means it must provide service to those who can’t afford the care; and the hospital — thus the government — must absorb those costs.

Yet, elected officials have chosen to ignore this financial reality. They have refused to provide Guam Memorial Hospital with the funding it needs to provide services to the people of Guam. This is the root cause of the $20 million owed to vendors, which threatens the hospital’s ability to continue operations because it puts at risk needed supplies and services.

Until the governor and senators wake up to this reality, the financial problems, and the threat they pose to providing basic health care services to the community, will persist. Calvo and the Legislature need to work on finding permanent financial sources to ensure that the Guam Memorial Hospital receives adequate funding for its operations.

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