February 19, 2018 (Hagåtña) — More than 7,000-plus Government of Guam employees, retirees, and their families will no longer have a choice in healthcare insurance plans after a surprise vote in the Legislature today.
Eleven senators voted to override the veto on Speaker BJ Cruz’s Bill 3-34. The bill was vetoed last summer. If it had passed into law last year, the people who rely on GovGuam health insurance would not have been able to go to the Seventh Day Adventist Clinic or the Guam Regional Medical Center. And if this is a possibility moving forward, it only underscores the importance of modernizing and expanding the Guam Memorial Hospital.
What we have today is a bill that leaves the GovGuam family with the cheapest single option for a health insurance plan. And although this new law leaves GovGuam employees without a choice, it will be implemented as passed.
The Speaker, following today’s vote, touted a savings of millions based on previous negotiations. That savings could be artificial. In negotiations last year, one of the bidders didn’t have a contract with the Guam Regional Medical City or the Seventh Day Adventist Clinic.
The senators who voted to revoke the option for choice in health insurance: Speaker Cruz, Sen. Tom Ada, Sen. Frank Aguon, Sen. Jim Espaldon, Sen. Fernando Esteves, Sen. Regine Lee, Sen. Telena Nelson, Sen. Joe San Agustin, Sen. Mike San Nicolas, Sen. Therese Terlaje, Sen. Mary Torres.
The Option of Choice
The current health insurance contract allows active and retired GovGuam employees to choose the insurance company that offers the services and providers — local and off-island — that best fits their family’s needs.
For years, insurance companies opted out of partnering with the Government of Guam until only one company remained. Government employees and retirees called for a choice. And the Democratic leadership at the Legislature listened, and opted to re-open the option for multiple choice several years ago.
Senators who voted to save the option of choice: Sen. Wil Castro, Sen. Tommy Morrison, Sen. Louise Muna, and Sen. Dennis Rodriguez.