Guam Speaker Reintroduces Bill To Limit Government Health Insurance Costs

Cruz pushes plan to save millions by only offering cheapest insurance option to employees

By Shawn Raymundo

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 4, 2017) – Speaker Benjamin Cruz on Wednesday introduced a bill meant to save taxpayers millions of dollars when it comes to selecting the government of Guam’s health insurance plan for employees and retirees.

It would require the governor to choose the plan with the lowest cost for taxpayers, even if it means employees and retirees will not be able to choose from several different insurance providers.

The bill, which Cruz reintroduced from last term, would require the government’s Health Insurance Negotiating Team to submit to Adelup only the most affordable health insurance proposal each fiscal year.

“Bill 3-34 echoes what every family on Guam already knows so well: choose the option you can afford,” Cruz said in a press release.

Currently, Guam law gives the governor the authority to choose between an exclusive plan, with one insurance provider, or a non-exclusive plan, in which more than one company is contracted to provide services, giving employees and retirees a choice.

For Fiscal 2017, the negotiating team submitted an exclusive plan option with TakeCare, which has saved taxpayers an estimated $20 million, from the $93 million spent last fiscal year..

Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio, who makes the decision because Gov. Eddie Calvo’s family owns insurance provider Calvo's SelectCare, instead chose the costlier, non-exclusive option, with TakeCare, SelectCare and Moylan’s NetCare.

“We want to provide our government of Guam employees and retirees with high quality service and not reduce ourselves to the cheapest price,” Tenorio stated in a previous press release. “The reality is, you get what you pay for. And we should invest in quality health care for our people, from our active employees to those who have given this island decades of service.”

“When we couldn’t cover the cost of the health insurance contract in 2016, Adelup still decided to sign an agreement that was $21 million more than the contract we were short on last year,” Cruz said in the release. “That is why I reintroduced this bill: to ensure that our taxpayers get the best deal possible without reducing a single health benefit to our retirees.”

Since Fiscal 2014, taxpayers have missed out on about $53 million in savings because of the governor's decision to go with a non-exclusive option.

“Fifty-three million dollars – that’s the amount of money we couldn’t spend on teachers, students, police officers, nurses, or firemen because some people in our government chose a health insurance contract which puts the interests of a select few before the interests of our taxpayers,” Cruz stated in his release. “That’s wrong. It’s backward fiscal policy, and choosing to sign a contract which you know exceeds your appropriation breaks the law.”

Pacific Daily News
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