NEWS: Option 3 reduces Public Health’s ability to help mån’amko, provide TB treatment and other services
July 11, 2018
“The loss to the General Fund is real.”
Speaker BJ Cruz told his fellow senators during session as senators discussed the sales tax. Cruz exhorted his colleagues that while painful, there has to be a solution to address the nearly $160M shortfall caused by the federal tax cuts.
To address that shortfall, GovGuam agencies have been called upon to reduce their budgets, and agencies like Department of Public Health and Social Services, said this would debilitate their ability to provide services to the community.
Officials said substantial reduction of local funds to the Department of Public Health and Social Services jeopardizes the mission of the Department, which is “to assist the people of Guam in achieving and maintaining their highest level of independence and self-sufficiency in health and social welfare.”
Public Health’s initial budget ceiling of $59.1 million for General Funds was reduced to $43.5 million – after senators voted without providing an alternate funding source.
Acting Director Leo Casil said the negative impact includes:
Substantial impact to clinical management of patients, disease surveillance, treatment of TB, latent TB infection, and communicable diseases, and other health conditions, and primary care services.
Substantial reduction of local funds to MIP and Medicaid programs would jeopardize access to quality health care placing them at greater risk for chronic conditions and increasing expenditure of preventable hospitalization , emergency room and off-island services. Medicaid funding may only last up to 3-4 months.
Supportive Services for the elderly — In-Home, Adult Day Care and Transportation services. Option 3 will reduce the number of clients to be served and alternate transportation for those in need will have to be sought.
Home delivered meals for the frail elderly will be reduced, including discontinuation of weekend meals services.
Overall operations and other support services for the department will experience reduced funding resulting in delays in recruitment of vital positions and procurement needed for overall operations..
The Governor, Speaker Cruz, Public Auditor Brooks, financial experts agreed that there should be some revenue solution to fill the gap created by the federal tax cuts — with the understanding that cuts also have to be made. The Legislature is expected to discuss and then produce a balanced budget by next month for the Fiscal Year 2019.
Even armed with this information, Senators Tom Ada, Frank Aguon Jr., Dennis Rodriguez Jr., Telena Nelson, Regine Biscoe Lee, Joe S. San Agustin, Therese Terlaje and the bill’s author, Michael San Nicolas. Republican Sens. James Espaldon, Mary Torres and Fernando Esteves repealed the sales tax — which also stripped away $40 million for the Guam Memorial Hospital and the Department of Education. And they didn’t put forth a revenue source to address the shortfall.

Skip to content