July 27, 2018

Hagåtña – Where were the Senators when multiple bills were sent to the Legislature to help the Guam Memorial Hospital years ago to help address the revenue shortfall and issues with facilities?

The bills and the pleas for help were ignored for so long, and the silence was so loud that last year we parked a hearse in front of their building as a plea for help.

And still nothing.

Then, in March, Public Law 34-87 was passed. It provided a roadmap to GMH’s financial challenges and would have ended four decades of a $30 million financial gap for the Guam Memorial Hospital. It also provided $10 million to the Department of Education for improvements critical to our schools.

But then, 11 Senators repealed the law, stripping the hospital of the badly needed funding. That same day Joint Commission accreditation was revoked.

And now we’re back trying to find financial help for GMH and DOE. Today, there was hearing on two bills that would give $5 million to GMH and $1 million to DOE.

“We are thankful the Speaker is trying to provide some level of financial help to GMH. The fact remains that an alternative is needed to address GMH’s needs — caused by a mandate to help everyone regardless of their ability to pay. Hopefully, Senators will come to an agreement soon,” said Governor Eddie Calvo. “The hospital and DOE cannot afford to wait.”

As an election approaches, it seems the Senators are using those most vulnerable – our children and our sick – as a banner on which to campaign.

In the meantime, GMH continues to struggle daily with the decisions to either pay nurses and doctors, purchase medicine and supplies, or fix long-deferred facilities maintenance upgrades. Many of these issues address concerns raised by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

“I think we recognize if GMH loses their Medicare reimbursement after October 3, you are not going to be in a position to immediately address the cash needs of GMH that exists on a daily basis,” said Joanne Brown, the governor’s representative to assist GMH, at today’s hearing.

“They cannot make commitments to ensure that the funding is going to be there, at the end of the day, that is NOT THEIR AUTHORITY, that authority to appropriate is YOUR authority. While you can debate with the administration what the priorities are, you get to make that decision when you do the budget – what those priorities are. And I just want to add, for GMH, it’s not demonstrating that GMH is the priority because of these deficiencies,” added Brown.

Senators, do what’s right. Return the dedicated funding source to GMH and DOE.

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